Why do we splint? Splinting is one of the fundamental procedures of the Emergency Department (ED). How well-versed are we with it? Why do we even splint? By the end of this post, you will know the reason why we splint, when to splint, and just as importantly — when NOT to splint in the ED.
The purpose of the SplintER series is to teach the fundamentals and introduce advanced concepts of splinting to the Emergency Medicine (EM) professional. Humans have been splinting their injuries since 1300 B.C.1 Although the fundamentals have not changed, splint selection and application require some thoughtful consideration. A 2017 prospective, observational study in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics demonstrated that more than 90% of splints applied in the Emergency Department were inappropriate (30% applied by EM attendings), as evaluated by orthopaedic surgeons.2 While that number may not be representative in your institution, it certainly highlights the inadequacies that many of us feel when approaching a splint!