Objective: To gain an overview of the current practice of different major institutions in Taiwan in the evaluation of abdominal injuries. A further comparison was made between general surgeons and emergency physicians in this aspect. Method: A telephone survey was conducted of all emergency departments of 58 major institutions (14 medical centres, 44 district hospitals) that are capable of providing definitive care for trauma victims in Taiwan in June 2002. Respondents were asked to select the diagnostic modality of choice in the evaluation of a haemodynamically abnormal blunt trauma victim with suspected intra-abdominal injuries. In the same study period, this particular telephone scenario was also used to survey 109 individual doctors (45 emergency physicians, 64 general surgeons). Results: Most respondents preferred ultrasound (also known as focused assessment with sonography for trauma or "FAST") instead of diagnostic peritoneal lavage (DPL) because DPL is invasive and most doctors in Taiwan have limited experience in performing DPL or interpreting the results. Conclusions: It seems reasonable to devote greater resources for emergency departments to incorporate a FAST based algorithm into their initial management of trauma victims, and to improve training in its use. It is also suggested that future ATLS teaching in Taiwan should include didactic material on FAST.
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