Episode 66 Backboard and Collar Nightmares from Emergency Medicine Update Conference

In the first of our series on Highlights from North York General's Emergency Medicine Update Conference, Dr. Kylie Bosman discusses Backboard and Collar Nightmares. The idea that backboards and c-spine collars prevent spinal cord injuries came from level 3 evidence in the 1960's and there has never been an RCT to prove this theory. In fact a Cochrane review on the topic in 2007 concluded that "the effect of pre-hospital spinal immobilisation on mortality, neurological injury, spinal stability and adverse effects in trauma patients remains uncertain" and that "the possibility that immobilisation may increase mortality and morbidity cannot be excluded". There have subsequently been several observational studies that describe increased morbidity and mortality associated with backboard and collars in a subset of patients. Dr. Bosman argues that the time has long past that a major paradigm shift needs to occur toward a safer more rational use of backboards and collars in our trauma patients.