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Doc Describes Medical Tent Experience of Boston Marathon

A doctor describes the transition from providing care to runners to feelings of helplessness

WEDNESDAY, April 24 (HealthDay News) -- The experience of a physician in the medical tent at the Boston marathon provides insight into the impact of the bombings on medical professionals at the scene; the perspective piece was published online April 23 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Sushrut Jangi, M.D., from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, describes his experience as a volunteer in the medical tent at the Boston marathon, from providing care for runners to witnessing the explosions and ensuing efforts to treat patients.

The author notes that during the marathon the medical tent provided care for sickened and stressed runners. After hearing the bombs, many of the medical professionals did not know where to go or where they would be most valuable. Many physicians went to the scene and tried to provide assistance. At the medical tent, doctors awaited victims and were often shocked by the injuries, the like of which they had not seen before. Most of the victims were rushed directly to ambulances and a feeling of helplessness overwhelmed the physicians. Following instructions to perform a secondary survey, the physicians began to work on minor injuries and superficial wounds. As the patients were taken to hospitals or left, the medical professionals also left, and many experienced insomnia, reliving the images of violence.

"On one side were the events preceding the blasts, when I'd marveled at the functioning tent, with patients carefully triaged, hydrated, bandaged, and warmed," Jangi writes. "On the other side were the moments after the blasts, when many of us sank into a sensation of futility, seeing victims whose injuries and trauma surpassed our capacity to help."

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Physician's Briefing


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