Trauma Telemedicine Team Trains Brazil for World Cup and Olympics

After using video satellite technology and the latest medical techniques to train military surgical teams for war, triage patients in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, and other high-profile projects, the Trauma Telemedicine team of the William Lehman Injury Research Center at UM/Jackson Ryder Trauma Center is taking another bold step in the field. Led by Antonio Marttos, M.D., the Trauma Telemedicine team is training Brazilian medical officials to establish an integrated trauma system for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

The state of Rio de Janeiro, which is hosting the two global sports events, is building five trauma centers, all to be fully integrated using telemedicine, to manage the care of injured athletes and other patients. In preparation, teams of physicians and nurses from Rio de Janeiro have started training at the Ryder Trauma Center, where telemedicine facilitates care and connects medical teams from different sites. Doctors will be traveling between Miami and Rio over the next two years to build what will eventually be a network of five hospitals in Rio de Janeiro connected by telemedicine.

Brazilian officials chose the Miller School program based on its considerable experience in the field of trauma telemedicine. The Ryder Trauma Center is home to the Army Trauma Training Center, which trains forward surgical teams that operate overseas. In addition, telemedicine provided medical support to injured survivors of Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake.

“Given our experience with the military in combat situations and the work we’ve done in disasters such as Haiti,” said Marttos, “it makes sense for the Injury Research Center to take a lead role here. This is what we do.”

Marttos and his team got a taste for taking care of athletes at the recent Summer Olympics in London, where they established a pilot telemedicine program linking all the Brazilian athletes to their headquarters. No matter where they were competing, every injured athlete was assessed immediately via smart phones and tablets to determine the best treatment and connect them to a specialist if necessary. “Telemedicine allows us to achieve a higher standard of care because there are no borders,” said Marttos.

The state hospitals that will be linked using telemedicine will be Alberto Torres, Albert Schweitzer, Adao Pereira Nunes at the new Rocha Faria and at the new Trauma Hospital in the Metropolitan, the highest density location of the Rio state. Trauma teams will consist of general, vascular, orthopedic and neurosurgical specialists, as well as anesthesiologists, pediatricians, thoracic and urologic trauma surgeons.

The first 17-member team from Brazil to spend two weeks training at Ryder consisted of six surgeons, three anesthesiologists, one intensive care specialist, one pediatrician and six nurses. After their return to Rio, Marttos and another trauma physician travelled there to continue the training. The back-and-forth travel and training is slated to continue for nearly four years.

Speaking to the group via satellite, Ana Lucia Eiras, M.D., State Health Secretary of Rio de Janeiro, said, “This is our best team we have sent to the U.S. We have to be ready with the best system and this partnership with UM is our way of doing that.”

One of those top surgeons, Flavia Allevato, M.D., said Brazilians value the expertise and “want to incorporate these practices into our system. We will be ready.”

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