UTMB Emergency Department

Programs, Services & Expertise

The trauma center at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston (UTMB Health) is one of the largest and most technologically sophisticated emergency care facilities in the world. Designated a Level I trauma center, it serves as the lead trauma facility for a nine-county region of southeast Texas. It is the only Level I trauma center in the region that is also a Level I Burn Center.

UTMB's trauma center offers the full range of every medical and surgical specialty 24/7, 365 days a year. It can respond to diverse medical needs, such as mass casualties, multiple traumas, closed-head injury, severe burns, petroleum industry accidents, hazardous material exposure, heart attacks and a variety of minor complaints that are treated simultaneously. Click here to learn more about Level I Trauma Care...


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Burn Care

UTMB is nationally and internationally recognized for specialization in the treatment of thermal, chemical and radiation burns, as well as research related to burns, trauma, sepsis and tissue repair.

In 1996, UTMB Health’s Blocker Burn Center became the first burn center in the U.S. to be certified by both the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association, an accreditation it has maintained continuously since 1996. In addition to having the highest survival rate of patients with major burn injury (greater than 80%) of all hospitals in the U.S., the center is also recognized for its excellence in trauma and tissue healing, with applications for many traumatic injuries and disease processes related to burn, radiation, chemical and inhalational injury.

This certification is an indicator to government, third-party payers, patients and their families, and accreditation organizations that the center provides high quality patient care and meets the demanding standards for organizational structure, personnel qualifications, facilities resources and medical care services set out in the ABA chapter on Guidelines for the Operation of Burn Centers in the ACS publication on Resources For Optimal Care Of The Injured Patient 2006.

More information >>

Decontamination/Hazmat

The UTMB Emergency Department is equipped to treat patient injuries related to injuries or exposures to hazardous materials, such as chemicals, poisons, flammable gases and other dangerous materials.

Heart Attack (STEMI)

STEMI is an acronym meaning "ST segment elevation myocardial infarction," which is a type of heart attack. This is determined by an electrocardiogram (ECG) test.

Myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) occur when a coronary artery suddenly becomes at least partially blocked by a blood clot, causing at least some of the heart muscle being supplied by that artery to become infarcted (that is, to die). Heart attacks are divided into two types, according to their severity. A STEMI is the more severe type.

In a STEMI, the coronary artery is completely blocked off by the blood clot, and as a result virtually all the heart muscle being supplied by the affected artery starts to die.

This more severe type of heart attack is usually recognized by characteristic changes it produces on the ECG. One of those ECG changes is a characteristic elevation in what is called the "ST segment." The elevated ST segment indicates that a relatively large amount of heart muscle damage is occurring (because the coronary artery is totally occluded), and is what gives this type of heart attack its name.

For more information on UTMB's Division of Cardiology, please click here

Primary Stroke Center

Get Immediate Emergency Care for Stroke Symptoms

There is a saying: “Time is brain.” Once a stroke begins, neurons in the brain begin to rapidly deteriorate, and victims lose 10 percent of salvageable brain for every 15 minutes that they go untreated. Therefore, limiting the extent of damage requires urgent, expert evaluation and treatment. Fortunately for patients in the Houston-Galveston region, those precious moments awaiting treatment do not have to be wasted.

UTMB is a Joint Commission Certified Primary Stroke Center, a designation that recognizes centers for exceptional outcomes in stroke care.

The Stroke, Neurovascular and Neurointerventional Program at UTMB provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to caring for stroke patients and patients with a wide range of complicated disorders of the blood vessels of the brain and spine, such as brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVM), arteriovenous fistula, carotid/vertebral artery stenosis and other various other neurovascular conditions.

A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain.

Because treatment can be more effective if given quickly, every minute counts when stroke strikes. People who experience one or more of the following symptoms should call 911 right away, even if symptoms are temporary:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Stroke, Neurovascular and Neurointerventional Program
UTMB Stroke, Neurovascular and Neurointerventional Program Team

Led by Dr. Stephen Busby, medical director of UTMB Stroke Services and director of Inpatient Neurology Services, the stroke program includes an acute stroke team, a dedicated neurosciences critical care unit, and outpatient stroke rehabilitation services. Included on the care team are specialists with fellowship training in stroke, neurocritical care, neurointerventional surgical therapy, vascular neurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology and stroke rehabilitation.

In addition to providing care for acute stroke patients, Neurointerventional Services are offered at UTMB, led by fellowship trained neurointerventionalist Dr. Dandamudi, who specializes in endovascular techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the brain and spinal cord.

Forensic Nursing (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner)

Forensic Nurses are registered nurses who have been specifically trained to provide comprehensive care to sexual assault survivors during a medical forensic examination. These nurses offer not only medical care, but also provide critical assistance to law enforcement by collecting and preserving forensic evidence that prosecutors may need to hold perpetrators accountable for their sexual assault-related crimes.

Please visit https://www.oag.state.tx.us/victims/sane.shtml for additional information.

Eye Injuries & Opthalmology

UTMB Health's Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences is one of the nation's leading institutions for the research and treatment of eye diseases.

Our highly trained eye specialists are skilled in leading-edge diagnostics and treatments to treat eye injuries. In addition, our research faculty and staff strive for the discovery of new and innovative approaches to understand and treat eye-related conditions and diseases. They work in the perfect research environment to take new developments from lab to clinic to care.

Emergency patients will be stabilized by our ophthalmology physicians on call with the assistance of our specialists 24 hours a day 7 days a week including all holidays. More information is available at UTMB Health Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Maritime Clinic

The University of Texas Medical Branch operates a maritime clinic which contracts with cruise ships to provide medical care for employees. Medical branch doctors and nurses can communicate with the ship's physicians via e-mail 24 hours a day. When ships dock in Galveston, medical branch doctors can treat the cruise ship employees.

Royal Caribbean recently selected UTMB Health for their new Center of Excellence, providing a primary health care facility for Royal Caribbean, bringing in their employees from ports in New Orleans and Fort Lauderdale for inpatient care and surgery procedures.

On days the ships are in port, Access Center nurses will facilitate crew care through case manage­ment throughout the UTMB system.

Carnival also currently has a similar contract with UTMB, in which employees schedule appointments at UTMB clinics during days the ships are in port. All cruise lines have a direct pay system set up with UTMB to cover all costs of care for incoming pa­tients.

Polar Medicine

UTMB has been providing telemedicine services for the United States Antarctic Program for more than a decade. Currently, UTMB manages medical operations for the United States Antarctic Program and has established a Center for Polar Medical Operations in Galveston to manage health services at the three stations operated by the U.S. - McMurdo Station, Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station and Palmer Station - as well as numerous seasonal field camps and two marine research vessels operated year round.

UTMB works for the National Science Foundation as a subcontractor for Lockheed Martin’s Antarctic Support Contract. Each of the polar stations has a physician and McMurdo has the equivalent of a level four urgent care center with capability for radiology and laboratory work, as well as an emergency medical technician or physician’s assistant and a lab technician.

In addition to providing medical staff, equipment and supplies on the continent, UTMB will also manage the required medical screening of the roughly 3,000 people who work at U.S. stations in the Antarctic each year. Another 300 people who ‘winter over’ at the bottom of the world, when weather conditions and continuous darkness make travel impossible, also require psychological evaluations.

Telemedicine

UTMB Telemedicine, along with its research and evaluation center, The UTMB Center for Telehealth Research and Policy, has helped develop and promote new telemedicine practice models, information systems, products, and methods for electronically mediated medicine.

Telemedicine, also referred to as Telehealth, is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration. Technologies used in telehealth typically are videoconferencing, the Internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.

This synergy has established meaningful collaborative projects with a host of distinguished partners serving as a platform for continued development and promotion of health program technologies that can and will benefit underserved patient populations across Texas, the nation, and the world.

Currently, UTMB Health provides emergency and specialist consultations to Community Health Centers in rural Texas, Regional Maternal and Child Health Clinics in Southeast Texas and some corporate employee health programs. UTMB also facilitate Maritime Clinic services and operates a Polar Medicine Program in Antarctica, including the use of tele-radiology.

Southeast Texas Poison Control Center

UTMB is home to the Southeast Texas Poison Center, and is certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), which establishes standards for poison control centers in the United States.

The purpose of accreditation is to ensure that all residents of a given geographic area have access to the highest quality of certified poison center services.

Certification criteria include poison information services, regional treatment capabilities, data collection capabilities, and professional and public education program. Once a poison center meets these standards, they may apply for accreditation to become a nationally certified poison center. There are 57 poison control centers in the U.S.

Accreditation criteria include:

  • Provide information 24 hours/day, 365 days/year to both health professionals and the public.
  • Provide full-time toxicological supervision.
  • Identify the treatment capabilities of the treatment facilities of the region.
  • Provide information on the management of poisoning to the health professionals throughout the region who care for poisoned patients.
  • Provide a variety of public education activities.

For more inofrmation on the Texas Poison Center Network, visit www.poisoncontrol.org. For more information on the American Association of Poison Control Centers, visit their web site at www.aapcc.org.

In an emergency, call 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

Transplant

Organ transplantation at UTMB has a long tradition of excellence. Founded more than 40 years ago, the program has been a pioneering force in the field.

UTMB's kidney transplantation program was established in 1967; it was the first in the Houston/Galveston area, and has performed more than 2,500 transplants. The pancreas transplant program started in 1988 and is among the largest and most active in Texas.

Our transplantation program has ranked in the top 10 percent in the nation for one-year survival rates for heart transplants. UTMB's new liver transplantation program offers the latest approaches in immunosuppressive therapy, treatment of hepatitis and cancer and surgical techniques for liver transplantation. And, UTMB's hepatobiliary program specializes in the advanced care of liver cancer and pancreatic surgery.

The surgical and medical subspecialty teams within the Texas Transplant Center not only perform transplants but also provide medical care and services for people with organ failure or other diseases in advanced stages. Our patients also benefit from the work of active researchers at UTMB. Regardless of the type of procedure, UTMB's transplant care team works diligently with our patients, their families and referring physicians to provide constant feedback regarding health status. We believe good communication is the key to providing exemplary patient care.


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