Professor Steven Jeffery discusses Chemical Injuries
Recently, Prismia had the pleasure of welcoming Professor Steven Jeffery (BSc MB ChB FRCS (Ed. Eng. Glasg.) EBOPRAS FRCS (Plast)) to South Africa. Accompanied by Mandy Wessels, Professor Jeffery lectured at seminars in Durban and Johannesburg on the subject of Chemical Injuries: Management and Prevention in his capacity as a leading practitioner in the treatment of burns, traumatic wounds, scarring and other soft tissue injuries.
Steven is a consultant Plastic Surgeon to the Defense Medical Service, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham and to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. He is also the Director of the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) Woundtec Healthcare Technology Cooperative and a Professor of Wound Study at Birmingham City University. He is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corps, so it was of great interest to the audience hearing of his unique experience as a plastic surgeon in treating chemical burns in combat situations having completed three tours of operational duty in Afghanistan.
As a Military Plastic Surgeon, he is an expert adviser to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and is a member of the British Burns Association, the International Society for Burn Injury and is a Patron to the charity RAFT (Restauration of Appearance and Function Trust). Steven co-founded the ‘Woundcare 4 Heroes’ charity, which has significantly improved the wound care of both serving and veteran servicemen. His involvement in this endeavour goes back to 2007 when Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham was struggling with the large number of casualties coming back from conflicts abroad. Steven took the opportunity to move there to be the first military plastic surgeon in the city, as well as to be part of the resident burns team.
During his tour of South Africa, he presented cases and produced results he obtained using his progressive approach to the management of chemical exposures. Outside of the military and in his work with civilian casualties he also discussed treatment of cement burns, caustic burns by household cleaners such as drain cleaners and petrol burns.
Going into some detail he showcased various patients that had suffered chemical splashes and how they were treated. He explained that the conventional treatment for chemical burns is to shave damaged skin until a healthy skin-bed is reached before applying a very painful skin-graft. However, he went on to say by using Diphoterine® Solution or Hexafluorine® Solution on the splashed area this surgery can be avoided as the harmful chemical is rapidly neutralized and the tissue decontaminated before any further damage can be done. He also explained that even though it is advised that chemical splashes should be treated with Diphoterine® Solution within the first minute of contact, positive results have been reported on delayed rinse cases. Professor Jeffery was emphatic in recommending using only Diphoterine® on chemical splashes.
All in all we feel Steven was very well received by his audiences because of his exceptional exposure to hazardous chemicals and we feel he has made a valuable contribution to health and safety in the country.