Interview with Lucien Bodson, Anesthesiologist in Belgium: ‘We must specify chemical burns because these burns are of another type’
Anesthesiologist Lucien Bodson looks back on his many years of experience dealing with chemical injuries for HSE Solutions.
PREVOR: What kind of career did you have in hospitals?
Lucien Bodson: I’m 67 years old, and I have forty years of experience; I’ll be retiring in November. I’m an anesthesiologist and A&E doctor, more specifically specialised in exceptional situations, namely disasters. I worked in an operating theatre as an anesthesiologist and then increasingly as an A&E doctor, which I managed for twenty years.
PREVOR: Were chemical burns treated in the same manner as other types of burn?
LB: We had this idea that chemical burns were like any other burn, namely thermal. Treatment was the same: water to cool them and then observation. For me, we knew very well that some burns were more serious than others, chemical and electrical ones healing much less well. They healed slower and left marks.
PREVOR: What’s your first memory of Diphoterine®?
LB: In 1993 I saw a demonstration that struck me, Diphoterine® was used to neutralise a strong acid or an alkali of the same intensity. I checked that it wasn’t rigged because it was so fast; I was impressed. After that meeting, I bought a few bottles to test in my department.
PREVOR: How did Diphoterine® become indispensable in your department?
LB: I asked my staff, following the purchase of these bottles, to personally inform me, at any time of day or night, when a chemical injury arrived. I wanted to apply the product myself. My first observation was that there were more types of chemical burn than first thought. At the A&E, we lost sight of people who were victims of these types of accident. Every week, there was at least one more person in this case. Then, I noticed that the first people treated felt less pain after 30 seconds or a minute. It seemed much faster than water. I also noticed an absence of side effects.
PREVOR: Were there any sequelae after using this solution?
LB: Later, over the weeks, I asked these people if I could see them one or two days after treatment. Their injuries healed much better than those treated with water. With the burn centre, I realised that grafts were more successful on people who had been treated with Diphoterine®. An importer called me to ask me why I bought a product (Diphoterine®) intended for businesses; he wanted some feedback. I told him that the most frequent accidents happened at home and that these people didn’t have anything to treat themselves with. So, of course, they came to the hospital.
PREVOR: Do you think Diphoterine® has changed the lives of workers exposed to chemical risk?
LB: For me it’s a miracle treatment; it’s easy to use and quick to apply. You can keep it in your pocket, in the field, and in emergency vehicles. There are no doubts, and the effects are felt directly, particularly with regards to pain. I only indirectly know that many workers in companies are reassured to know that there is Diphoterine® on hand. They had seen accidents happen to colleagues and, obviously, that marked them. Word of mouth also works well.
“If you wait too long before applying Diphoterine®, it may be irreversible for the healing process.”
PREVOR: Does this solution promote wound healing?
LB: Everything depends on the injury, if you wait too long before applying Diphoterine®, it may be irreversible. However, the speed of healing is clearly different between treatment with water and treatment with Diphoterine®. That’s clear. Surgeons have confirmed it to me, even though it is always difficult to have cases that can be compared.
PREVOR: How do the most common chemical injuries you’ve treated occur?
LB: Battery acids, bleach, sulphuric acid, and strong alkalis, such as caustic soda, in business it’s products used to clean tanks and hydrofluoric acid, which is more specifically used for engravings on electronic plates or glass. For me, we must specify chemical burns because these burns are of another type that require different methods to treat them compared to conventional burns.
PREVOR: How many serious cases do you see each year?
LB: Each year we have between five and ten serious injuries, otherwise, every week one or two people with a chemical injuries come to our hospital.