ATLANTIC CITY — Two women were fatally stabbed, a teen was shot in the arm and a man was slashed in face this week in the resort.
But medical professionals who deal with the city’s most severely injured say victims of penetrating wounds such as those from shootings and stabbings make up less than 10 percent of the patients at AtlantiCare’s Regional Trauma Unit.
This week, AtlantiCare is hosting its 14th annual Trauma Symposium, where more than 500 health care workers from all over have come to learn more about dealing with trauma. The symposium has become nationally recognized as one of the premier meetings of trauma workers, hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Tornetta said.
The city is a good choice, considering the hospital’s Trauma Unit saw about 1,700 patients last year. Most of them — 90 percent — suffered some sort of blunt-force trauma, said Monica Titus, program director for trauma and neurosciences. Of those, about 40 percent are from falls.
The 10 percent with penetrating wounds aren’t all victims of violence, Titus added. They include anything from gunshot wounds to someone caught on a fish hook.
“Our team’s always ready to respond, no matter what,” Titus said.
She also worked to make sure the offerings at this year’s symposium responded to new challenges for emergency workers, that included a discussion of “bath salts” and so-called synthetic marijuana, both now fully banned in New Jersey. Northfield’s ACRAT was recently found to be selling synthetic marijuana, a cannabinoid meant to mimic pot but that is much more dangerous, Dr. William Gluckman told those attending his seminar “Bath Salts — ODs in the ED,” or overdoses in the emergency department).
The drug is a mix of herbs and plants sprayed with a chemical.
“Good luck in guessing what the plants are,” Gluckman told the audience, speaking about the varied nature of what’s found.
And the synthetic cannabinoid spray doesn’t result in the effects that pot users are used to. Rather than a mellow high, it can cause severe agitation and psychosis. Bath salts — a cathinone mainly snorted like cocaine — are even worse, he said.
“Patients can become very combative,” Gluckman warned. “One minute they’ll be zoned out, then suddenly reach and grab your throat.”
Gluckman said many are still unaware of these new drugs and their dangers. The most important thing, he said, is education, especially for parents.
“Teens are going to experiment with drugs,” he said. “Unfortunately, many of them are trying this.”
The symposium ends Wednesday.
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