“I owe my husband’s life to trauma centre”
26 March 2013
A motorway accident victim says she owes her husband’s life to the existence of the Major Trauma Centre at QEHB after they both suffered multiple injuries in the same horrific incident.
Louise French and her husband Kevin found themselves being treated alongside each other in the hospital’s intensive care unit following the devastating crash on the M5 motorway in October last year.
Community nurse Louise suffered breaks to her neck, pelvis, left leg and foot, but her husband, who works as a finance director, was left with a severe head injury, punctures to both lungs, two broken legs, plus other fractures, after taking the brunt of the impact.
The couple, both aged 47, were helping to change a flat tyre with their 19-year-old daughter on the hard shoulder of the M5 between junctions 3 and 4 when they were in a collision with a car travelling along the motorway.
And Louise, from Telford, Shropshire, is convinced her husband of 22 years would not be alive today if not for the expert emergency care available at QEHB.
She said: “I have no doubts in my mind that he wouldn’t have survived without the immediate urgent surgery to his head and lungs that he received at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He wouldn’t be here today if there wasn’t a major trauma centre close to where the accident happened.
“I think if the accident had happened in Telford, where we live, and we had to wait for an air ambulance to take us to hospital, I don’t think my husband would be alive now. It’s only because the accident happened so close to the QE that he was saved.”
Mr French spent 16 days in a coma and is still undergoing rehabilitation for his injuries, which also included several fractured ribs and a fractured shoulder and collarbone. But Louise added: “He is doing well now.”
She remained in hospital for nearly seven weeks following the accident, which happened between the A456 Birmingham and A38 Bromsgrove turn-offs.
“My daughter had a puncture on the M5 and called us to come and help her, so we parked behind her car on the hard shoulder.
“The last thing I remember is opening the boot of her car to get the spare wheel out. Then the next thing is waking up in a scanning room in hospital. I don’t know how long after the accident that was, as I don’t remember much of the first three weeks.
“Fortunately, our daughter suffered only minor injuries so was able to tell us what happened. She said the three of us were standing between our two cars on the hard shoulder when a car suddenly collided with us.
“After that I just remember little snippets for the first three weeks, one of which was being alongside my husband in intensive care.”
Louise, who also has a 16-year-old daughter, spent four days in intensive care before being well enough to go on to a ward.
“She added: “The treatment for both me and my husband was excellent throughout. All the staff in there were very good, especially the occupational therapists and the physios. They were excellent.”
Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon Ravichandran Karthikeyan was leading the Major Trauma Centre team Clinician in the QEHB’s Emergency Department when Louise French and her husband Kevin were brought in.
Acting as Consultant Trauma Clinician (CTC), he helps to ensure that the poly-trauma patient receives input from all the required specialties as soon as they arrive.
The CTC also helps to co-ordinate the care of these patients beyond the Emergency Department and they are also involved in ward rounds.
Mr Karthikeyan said the role of the CTC has made a real difference to enhancing the care of patients who have life threatening injuries which require timely input from several specialties.
He outlined the benefits of the hospital being designated as a Major Trauma Centre.
“It is entirely due to the massive coordination of all the specialties involved, all being in one place, including neurosurgery, cardiothoracics, plastic surgery, and, of course, trauma.
“That has given us the best possible coordinated treatment for the benefit of trauma patients. Having all the clinical specialties in one place has been a massive strength.”