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Secondary survey in paediatric trauma
  1. Clare Mc Auley1,
  2. Stephen Mullen1,
  3. Lisa Corley2,
  4. Roisin McDonald1,
  5. Nuala Quinn2,3
  1. 1 Paediatric Emergency Department, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, UK
  2. 2 Emergency Department, Temple Street Children's University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3 National Office for Trauma Services, Health Service Executive, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Clare Mc Auley, Paediatric Emergency Department, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, BT12 6BA, UK; Clare.mcauley1{at}


The purpose of a secondary survey is to identify the non–life-threatening injuries that are not a priority in the primary survey, but if missed could have long-term impacts for the patient. This article provides a structured approach of the head-to-toe examination required for the secondary survey. We follow the journey of a 9-year-old boy, Peter, who was involved in an accident—electric scooter versus car. After resuscitation and primary survey, you have been asked to carry out the secondary survey. This is a guide of the steps to follow in order to carry out a comprehensive examination to ensure nothing is missed. It highlights the importance of good communication and documentation.

  • paediatrics
  • paediatric emergency medicine

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  • Twitter @lisacorley_, @DrNualaQuinn

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the final manuscript. CMA wrote the manuscript in consultation with SM and RMD which was reviewed by LC and NQ.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.