By Danny Marshall RN, EMT-P, CLNC
A definition of a mechanism of injury: Describes a particular set of circumstances that caused a given injury. An example: The mechanism of an injury from a car crash will often be described in terms of the speed, angle, and direction of the crash. Emergency medical professionals often take into consideration when assessing and describing the circumstances and causes of an injury.
Pretty straight forward, you would think?
Not so. As a paramedic I can think of several times I would bring in a patient involved in a motor vehicle accident and describe to the receiving medical team:
- The type of impact
- The speed at which the impact occurred
- The amount of intrusion into the vehicle
- If the patient was restrained or not.
Only to have the receiving staff not appreciate the importance of the information concerning the mechanism of injury presented to them. These descriptions are of paramount importance in ensuring proper patient care. To ignore these facts could lead to a negative outcome for the patient.
So what does all this mean in the world of the LNC?
In one simple word, EVERYTHING. The mechanism of injury is the heart and soul for a LNC reviewing medical records for a client. As a paramedic I would always ask what type of injury should I suspect in a patient depending on the type of event that occurred. As a LNC I am asking very similar questions as I review a medical record. Does the type of injury the claimant reports match the mechanism of injury. An example: a person has a slip and fall at a local business and now states a torn rotator cuff was the result of this particular fall. I am now asking similar questions:
- How far did the claimant fall
- What type of surface did the claimant fall on
- Was it a ground level fall or a fall from a significant height
- Are there any pre-existing medical issues that could account for the claimant’s current injury pathology
The answers to these questions is not to absolve any person or business from responsibility for an injury sustained from someone on their premises or to discredit a person who has sustained an injury. But this is an honest effort to find the truth. This is why a thorough review of medical records is of paramount importance and a healthy understanding of the significance of mechanisms of injury truly is the heart and soul in the world of the LNC.