Blunt mechanism chest wall injury: initial patient assessment and acute care priorities
Intended for healthcare professionals

Blunt mechanism chest wall injury: initial patient assessment and acute care priorities

Edward Baker Consultant nurse emergency care, emergency department, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, England
Ceri Battle Consultant physiotherapist, Swansea Bay University Health Board, Swansea, Wales
Geraldine Lee Reader in advanced practice, Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care, King’s College London, London, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To enhance your knowledge of blunt mechanism chest wall injury

  • To understand the acute care priorities for patients with blunt mechanism chest wall injury following initial assessment

  • To contribute towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

Blunt mechanism chest wall injury (CWI) is commonly seen in the emergency department (ED), since it is present in around 15% of trauma patients. The thoracic cage protects the heart, lungs and trachea, thereby supporting respiration and circulation, so injury to the thorax can induce potentially life-threatening complications. Systematic care pathways have been shown to improve outcomes for patients presenting with blunt mechanism CWI, but care is not consistent across the UK. Emergency nurses have a crucial role in assessing and treating patients who present to the ED with blunt mechanism CWI. This article discusses the initial assessment and acute care priorities for this patient group. It also presents a prognostic model for predicting the probability of in-hospital complications following blunt mechanism CWI.

Emergency Nurse. doi: 10.7748/en.2024.e2181

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Baker E, Battle C, Lee G (2024) Blunt mechanism chest wall injury: initial patient assessment and acute care priorities. Emergency Nurse. doi: 10.7748/en.2024.e2181

Published online: 12 March 2024

Want to read more?

Already have access? Log in


3-month trial offer for £5.25/month

Subscribe today and save 50% on your first three months
RCNi Plus users have full access to the following benefits:
  • Unlimited access to all 10 RCNi Journals
  • RCNi Learning featuring over 175 modules to easily earn CPD time
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Revalidation Portfolio to stay on track with your progress
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests
  • A customisable dashboard with over 200 topics

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now

Are you a student? Our student subscription has content especially for you.
Find out more