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Friday, 20 October, 2000, 05:45 GMT
Experts issue head injury advice
Scan
The aim is to reduce complications
New guidelines are being issued to Scottish medical staff in an attempt to improve treatment for patients with head injuries.

They have been produced by a group of medical experts and give advice on when patients should be referred for specialist treatment.

The aim is to reduce early complications which can hinder recovery - or even cause disabilities.

Experts insist that early management of patients is crucial.

Every year 100,000 Scots go to hospital suffering from head injuries.

Brain
The human brain is very vulnerable to injury
Their recovery depends, in part, on the way those injuries are dealt with.

A group of Scottish medical experts, called SIGN, has developed the set of guidelines for GPs and accident and emergency teams.

They give clear, consistent and comprehensive advice on when to refer patients for specialist treatment.

The experts say that many patients become disabled when complications arise - even though a full recovery might have been possible with specialist consultation.

The group says it has been approached by clinicians from across Europe wanting to follow Scotland's lead in improving head injury care.

Earlier this year a study in Glasgow showed that the level of disability among people admitted to hospital with head injuries is often much higher than first diagnosed.

Glasgow University researchers studied the progress of more than 2,500 people admitted to hospitals in the city over a one-year period.

Moderate injuries

They found that support and rehabilitation following discharge was inadequate for the patients' needs.

And researchers discovered that the initial severity of the injury was not closely related to the level of disability found in survivors one year later.

Almost 80% of those who survived severe head injury incidents were disabled, as were 54% of those with moderate injuries and 51% of those with mild head injuries.

The researchers also found that less than half of disabled survivors were seen in hospitals after being discharged.

Last year a wide-ranging report from a Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCSE) working party said patients with head injuries were getting sub-standard care at many of the UK's hospitals.

It recommended that only doctors specifically trained to deal with head injuries should treat such patients.

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02 May 00 | Scotland
Head injury plea to footballers
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