Understanding Trauma Centers

What is a Trauma Center?

Most people do not know what the difference is between an emergency room and a trauma center. A trauma center is a specialized hospital where patients with traumatic bodily injuries caused by external force get treated by a team of specialists who are on call 24/7. A trauma center is a hospital that has been certified to treat trauma. Unlike an emergency room which is a physical wing of an existing hospital that treats patients with urgent medical needs that have originated within the body such as a heart attack, stroke or asthma attack; trauma centers take on the most severe of life-threatening injuries.

Trauma has been defined as a serious life-threatening physical injury, with potential complications of shock, respiratory failure, and death. With trauma being the 5th leading cause of death in America, you can see why these specialized hospitals are so important to keep open.

Trauma centers exist on four different levels. Level 1 trauma centers have the most advanced, readily available resources and staff to treat serious life threatening injuries. There are also level 2, 3 and 4 trauma centers. Although trauma centers operate independently they do rely on one another. If an injured person arrives at a level 2 trauma centers but that trauma center doesn’t have the necessary staff or equipment to treat the injured person, that person may need to be transferred to a level 1 trauma center where they can be treated accordingly.

In recent years more and more trauma centers have been closing their doors. Trauma centers admit every person who comes into the facility with a traumatic injury whether they have the funds or insurance to cover the cost. Plain and simple, trauma centers nationwide are at risk of closing. The National Trauma Center Stabilization Act of 2009 currently in Congress states that, “trauma centers collectively have incurred $230,000,000 per year in losses for treating victims who are either uninsured or whose care is reimbursed well below the cost of providing care.” Trauma centers are not only losing funds to keep their doors open, they are at risk of closing down or having to down-grade a level due to the lack of on-call specialists. If more trauma centers continue to close nationwide, then there will be less facilities available to treat the most serious of injuries. Spread the word on the importance of keeping our trauma centers open and running.


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