Transcript: Press briefing on the Boston Marathon bombing victims’ conditions at Boston Medical Center – April 16, 2013

Transcript of Q&A with Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center, on the conditions of Boston Marathon bombing victims being treated at Boston Medical Center. The press briefing was held on April 16, 2013:

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
So as we’ve discussed earlier, there have been 23 patients who did come to us. 4 of those patients were able to be discharged after an evaluation. And then the 19 patients that remained with us had 16 operations. Today, we did 5 more operations on these patients but luckily the patients are progressing. So earlier today, we had said there were 10 patients in critical condition. Some of those patients have improved throughout today and were able to be extubated. 3 of them are now no longer in critical condition. So our patients who are still critical are 7. We now have 6 in serious condition and 6 in fair condition. So patients are progressing, some faster than others of course. And there are still – many of these patients who still need operations both tomorrow, the next day, and Friday…are planning to go back to the operating room with these patients.

Question:
Can you talk about any of the shrapnel-like material…in patients and what procedures you took to provide that to authorities?

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
So several patients, as you know, had fragments removed and we do that separate from just this incident – we do that when there’s a foreign body such as a gunshot wound and the evidence is handled the same each time where as it’s removed, it’s sent to the pathologist who then record it and then it gets sent on its way so it has a chain of evidence. So that hasn’t really changed. That’s what we always do for this type of situation. We’ve been removing various things from people in the sense of – it’s not necessarily identified – just pieces of plastic, metal – just various random things.

Question:
Others…have talked about seeing things like nails or BB gun…

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
Right. We have not seen nails. We have not seen ball bearings. ‘

Question:
Just little particles of that?

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
Particles of metal and plastic. Right, that’s what we’re seeing in our patients.

Question:
And the patients who are able to speak and are well enough to, what kind of stories are they telling you?

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
Believe it or not, as the doctors, we often don’t ask them the stories. We usually just focus on the surgery and the care.

Question:
Are they quite traumatized…?

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
They seem remarkably calm and most of them do have family and loved ones with them, which is nice. So they seem to be handling this very well given the circumstances. And it’s our social workers or the other people who work with us who sort of talk to them more about what happened and we sort of focus on the surgery and the care.

Question:
Can you tell us how many you have with you that have lost limbs…?

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
So, the number hasn’t changed and I believe it was 5 total. But I don’t know the count of how many was one versus two.

Question:
Do you know how many of them were runners or how many of them were spectators?

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
I think not all – I think we had one runner possibly but not one of the critical people. All the critical people were spectators.

Question:
About the surgeries that were performed, can you describe what they were?

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
So this was all planned operations. The person who had their abdomen operated on needed to go back to the operating room and that happened today. And then a couple of people who needed their wounds of what we call washed out, irrigated, debris-ed, they went today as well. So it was all planned operations.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
Possibly [may discharge some patients]. We’re obviously taking our time with them and a lot of these wounds we are concerned about infection given the nature of what happened. So it’s nice to keep an eye on them to make sure that they don’t have an infection. But we have planned operations again for tomorrow for maybe 9 of the patients are going to be back again tomorrow and then the next day several patients again going back.

Question:
[Inaudible]…child…?

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
Yes, still critical condition. Improving.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
I would rather not go into the detail but yeah traumatic injuries from this and he’s still in critical condition.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
Yeah, I couldn’t really comment on that. Just – yeah, I couldn’t really comment on that. Nothing obvious that showed us it was from the bomb…I personally haven’t seen BBs…Obviously the wounds once we remove the leg, the wounds are gone and sent off to the pathologist.

Question:
Was the 5-year-old one of the surgeries today?

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
No.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Dr. Tracey Dechert, Trauma Surgeon at Boston Medical Center:
No, I was not in the military. A lot of trauma surgeons have been in the military as you can see the connection. But I have not. But our military colleagues obviously teach us a great deal about this.

Thank you.

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