The Bali bombings – the Royal Perth Hospital Intensive Care Unit Physiotherapy experiences


The events of October 12, 2002 in Bali had significant implications for the intensive care unit (ICU) and burns unit (BU) at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH), with 28 casualties transferred to RPH, 11 of whom required intensive care. Significant implications and repercussions for ICU physiotherapy services resulted. Historically, the RPH ICU averages approximately 10 major burns patients per year. Traditionally at RPH, the multidisciplinary philosophy is that rehabilitation commences at the time of injury. Individual ICU burns admissions are very labour intensive from a physiotherapy perspective, with customised splinting, positioning, stretching and rehabilitation programs in conjunction with any specific respiratory physiotherapy interventions provided. From the outset, the focus of physiotherapy services was to provide this same individualised and holistic care to each Bali bombing patient. In contrast, literature suggests that the traditional response in a major trauma situation by medical services is one of “best for the most”. Apart from obvious challenges in these 11 patients being admitted within a 48 hour timeframe was the scope of traumas and management complexity encountered. From October 14 until December 9, 2002, 707 occasions of service and 28,485 minutes of physiotherapy treatment were provided to 11 Bali victims in ICU, representing 64.5% of their total inpatient physiotherapy services. This was achieved successfully with unheralded degrees of co-operation, communication, dedication and commitment not just from the ICU and BU physiotherapy and nursing teams but also in conjunction with all members of the health care team. Three Bali bombing patients died in ICU, but all others were discharged home, the last one on January 6, 2003.

Patman, S., & Edgar, D. (2003). The Bali bombings – the Royal Perth Hospital Intensive Care Unit Physiotherapy experiences. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 49(3), 19.

ISSN: 0004-9514


The Proceedings of the Australian Physiotherapy Association's 8th National Cardiothoracic Special Group Conference, 'Inspiring Innovation, Expiring Tradition' may be accessed here