OU Medicine News

News Release

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

Date: Aug. 4, 2017

For more information, call:
Vallery Brown or Travis Doussette
OU Medical Center/The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center
Office: (405) 271-7900
vallery.brown@hcahealthcare.com|
travis.doussette@hcahealthcare.com

 

ATV CRASH SURVIVOR’S CAREGIVERS LEAD HEALTH CARE, IMPROVING LIVES WITH ABCS 

OKLAHOMA CITY – When an all-terrain vehicle crash on Jan. 30, 2016, broke the C4 vertebra in then 20-year-old Koleton Richardson’s neck, his parents could think of little else but getting their son walking again while his critical care team at OU Medical Center was busy practicing their ABCs.

But, these weren’t the classroom ABCs. The “ABCDEF bundle” Richardson’s critical care team was practicing helped ensure his time spent in the intensive care unit (ICU) not only saved his life, but didn’t leave any lasting negative effects.

OU Medical Center is one of fewer than 60 hospitals across the country sharing these ABCs of best practices and protocols as part of a Society of Critical Care Medicine collaborative called “ICU Liberation” aimed at improving the quality of life for patients following an ICU stay.

“These are alphabet reminder elements that help improve patient outcomes,” said Dr. Pamela Roberts, a critical care physician who was part of Richardson’s team. She also spearheads the ABCDEF bundle at OU Medical Center.

Roberts first met Richardson when he arrived at OU Medical Center by medical helicopter soon after his crash. She immediately knew his situation was dire.

“This kind of injury is a life-changer for the individuals and their family,” Roberts said.

When he arrived at OU Medical Center, Richardson couldn’t walk or feel his fingers. He started losing the ability to breathe on his own. From north of Oklahoma City in Logan County, his parents were rushing to the hospital to be by his side.

Until his accident, Richardson had been a motocross ATV racer. That Saturday on the track was like any of the other hundreds of practice runs he’d taken on an ATV. As his teammates watched from the side of the track, he made that fateful run. He was fully outfitted with a helmet and protective gear, which likely saved him from a head injury or additional serious injuries.

But somehow, Richardson lost control. The ATV flipped.

“I knew instantly that I’d broken my neck,” said Richardson. “I felt the instant shock and everything felt tingly and asleep and I knew I was messed up.”

Richardson said he didn’t lose consciousness and he recalls thinking to himself that he was paralyzed. Time started to run together.  

Calls were immediately made for help, and the sheriff’s department and emergency medical services arrived. Then came the medical helicopter, which would fly him south to OU Medical Center.

“I remember getting off the helicopter and then chaos,” he said. “I completely had lost track of time.”

Richardson’s parents, Tina and Greg Richardson, arrived at the hospital while doctors were still imaging Richardson’s body and figuring out next steps.

“We knew it was serious, but we didn’t know how serious it was,” Greg Richardson said. “Dr. Roberts began educating us on his injury and we just hoped he’d at least have some movement in his arms someday.”

Following surgery to fuse his C4 and C5 vertebrae, Richardson was taken back to the 18-bed trauma ICU where he’d spend the next two weeks. There, his care team would use the ABCDEF bundle when caring for him.

Every year, more than 5.7 million people are admitted to ICUs in the United States for lifesaving care, according to the Society of Critical Care Medicine. At OU Medical Center alone, Richardson was one of nearly 1,100 trauma ICU patients cared for in 2016. Most recover, but many end up with long-term negative side effects from heavy sedation, ventilator use and immobility while in the ICU. Each component of the ABCDEF bundle includes assessments and interventions designed to prevent or minimize the unintended consequences of patient care.  

Greg Richardson said for him, “F” is the most important letter of the ABCDEF alphabet because it stands for family. The other letters of the protocol stand for other facets of the protocol: A – treating and assessing pain; B – wake up and breathe; C – choice of medications; D – assessing, preventing and managing delirium; and E – early mobility and exercise.

“We were involved in every step of his care and provided options,” Greg Richardson said. “It’s amazing what OU Medical Center has done for our family.”

Every day during rounds, Richardson’s family was invited to participate in the day’s plan for care. They were able to ask questions and give feedback, truly becoming part of their son’s care team.

Roberts said communication with family is one of the many benefits of the ABCDEF bundle. It also means caregivers communicate differently.

“It gets a team of more interprofessionals at the bedside at the same time. It requires us to communicate more directly with each other.”

During his time in the ICU, Richardson hit milestone after milestone. The most notable was the day he was discharged to a rehabilitation facility.

“I was able to move my big toe,” he said. “That was the start of even more hope.”

Richardson spent three months in a rehabilitation hospital. As the movement of his big toe foreshadowed, he was eventually able to walk again. Today, Richardson is healthy and suffers no long-term side effects from the injury or hospitalization.

“It’s completely changed who I am,” said Richardson. He doesn’t race anymore, but participates from behind the lens of a camera, taking still photographs and videos and often traveling around the country with his ATV team. He plans to study graphic design and photography in college and to help others with spinal cord injuries.

Greg Richardson said there’s no doubt in his mind Richardson was at the best place possible for his care. Never once did he doubt the OU Medical Center team doing wasn’t doing everything there was to help his son.

“There’s a reason Koleton ended up here,” he said. “It’s amazing what OU Medical Center has done for our family.”

Added Richardson’s mother, Tina Richardson, “This is the place to be.”

 

 

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OU MEDICINE

OU Medicine is the collective brand for OU Medical Center, OU Physicians and the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. Headquartered at the Oklahoma Health Center campus near downtown Oklahoma City, OU Medicine is the state’s largest academic medical complex. Among other things, it provides health care, conducts medical research and educates the physicians of tomorrow. 

OU Medical Center is home to the state’s only Level 1 Trauma Center and The Children’s Hospital is Oklahoma’s most comprehensive pediatric facility. Members of OU Physicians – the state’s largest physicians group – provide care at the hospital facilities and at OU Physicians clinics in Oklahoma City and across the state. The practice includes almost every adult and child specialty, and some of its physicians have pioneered treatments or procedures that are world-firsts. Find us online at www.oumedicine.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube as OU Medicine.