What is a Trauma System?
trauma system is an organized,
coordinated effort in a defined geographic area that delivers the full
range of care to all injured patients and is integrated with the local
public health system. The true value of a trauma system is derived from
the seamless transition between each phase of care, integrating existing
resources to achieve improved patient outcomes. Success of a trauma
system is largely determined by the degree to which it is supported by
Trauma systems are regionalized, making efficient use of health care
resources. Trauma systems are based on the unique requirements of the
population served, such as rural, inner-city, urban, or Native American
communities. Trauma systems must emphasize the prevention of injuries in
the context of community health. Ultimately, nationwide development of
trauma systems would allow for seamless and effective care across the
United States with the ability to expand to meet the medical needs of
the community from a man-made or natural disaster.
What is a Regional Trauma Center?
The trauma patient is an injured person who requires timely diagnosis
and treatment of actual or potential injuries by a multidisciplinary
team of health care professionals, supported by the appropriate
resources, to diminish or eliminate the risk of death or permanent
disability. Injuries occur across a broad spectrum and a trauma system
must determine the appropriate level of care for each type of injury.
The four levels refer to the kinds of resources available in a trauma
center and the number of patients admitted yearly. These are categories
that define national standards for trauma care in hospitals. Developed
and recommended by the American College of Surgeons.
A Level I trauma center has a full range of specialists and equipment available 24-hours a day and admits a minimum required annual volume of severely injured patients. Additionally, a Level I center has a program of research, is a leader in trauma education and injury prevention, and is a referral resource for communities in nearby regions.
A Level II trauma center works in collaboration with a Level I center. It provides comprehensive trauma care and supplements the clinical expertise of a Level I institution. It provides 24-hour availability of all essential specialties, personnel and equipment. Minimum volume requirements may depend on local conditions. These institutions are not required to have an ongoing program of research or a surgical residency program.
A Level III trauma center does not have the full availability of specialists, but does have resources for the emergency resuscitation, surgery and intensive care of most trauma patients. A Level III center has transfer agreements with Level I and/or Level II trauma centers that provide back-up resources for the care of exceptionally severe injuries.
A Level IV trauma center provides the stabilization and treatment of severely injured patients in remote areas where no alternative care is available.