A sight-saving drug that reverses the effect of chemicals on the body will be put to the test at the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS).
We spoke to GNAAS doctor Dan Bearn about the new intervention which is set to revolutionise the way critical care teams work.
Dan, how did you identify that this drug was around?
This specific agent is called Diphoterine. It has been used in hospital environments for a while now and its job is to neutralise acid or alkali when they come into contact with the body.
What does it do?
It’s potentially a sight-saving intervention that reverses chemicals and stops the burning process to prevent life-changing injuries especially to the face.
It is administered in a fluid form which is then irrigated over the patient’s eyes or the area of the burns.
What sort of injuries would warrant you using this?
An example of a patient who would need this would be someone who had been in an acid attack or someone who works in the chemical industry.
If a patient had suffered burns to the eyes and body, this agent could prevent the person from going blind. With a chemical burn, the damage doesn’t stop, it will just continue to penetrate deeper into the tissue. This agent will help to stop that process.
Was it a big decision to trial?
Although it is rarely we go to a patient with this type of burn. Clearly, for those patients that need it, it can be vital.
When will the trial period be over?
Diphex (the company who produce the agent) have given us a 12 month supply for free. It hasn’t been used yet at GNAAS, but it has in hospital with good effect.
What could this treatment mean for a patient?
It could mean the difference between a patient being blind and not blind. Loss of sight is the number one thing that can have a detrimental effect on the quality of someone’s life.
Is the use of this drug in response to anything?
This is a relatively new agent and is in semi-response to the increase in assaults with chemicals and our work on the overnight cars in urban environments. There is now a greater chance of getting called to these types of incidents. We also work in a region that is home to a huge chemical industry.