Lucy Ruangvoravat, MD, is a surgeon for Yale Medicine Surgery, Trauma & Critical Care. She divides her time between routine and emergency surgeries to treat such common conditions as acute appendicitis, gall bladder disease, and intestinal obstructions, and critical surgeries for trauma patients in Yale New Haven Hospital’s Level I trauma center. The latter group includes patients who come in with gunshot or stab wounds, or who have been in serious motor vehicle accidents.
Dr. Ruangvoravat chose her field so she could care for people when they were most vulnerable. “I wanted to do something that benefits the community, and a trauma surgeon is always needed in any community,” she says.
New medical and surgical tools, as well as refinements to old ones, have made her work easier. These include high quality CT scans that may be used to monitor a patient’s condition and minimally invasive techniques used by interventional radiologists to treat internal bleeding, among other things. Both of these technologies can help avoid trips to the operating room.
“We approach each patient systematically, assessing things that are most critical first, always keeping in mind that sometimes these patients leave their house in what starts out as a normal day, and suddenly something like one red light makes it the worst day of their lives,” Dr. Ruangvoravat says. “We try to remain calm and simplify things for them. We don’t make false promises, but we try to be realistic and give them an idea of what they might expect.” She says the best part of her work is “seeing patients overcome their huge hurdles and returning them back to their families.”