What is Trauma?
Trauma is defined as a physical injury. Clearly, there are varying degrees of trauma that may occur. For the purposes of triage in medicine, trauma typically describes an injury that requires prompt medical intervention ranging from wound repair to life-saving measures.
Typically, first-responders such as paramedics are the first to assess potential trauma. These professionals correspond with emergency room doctors or nurses and provide necessary information to determine whether the patient should be taken to the nearest emergency room or a nearby trauma center.
Essentially, emergencies are described as the sudden onset or change in symptoms. Chest pain or facial drooping is an example of a medical emergency. Trauma, on the other hand, is typically associated with physical injury from an external source. A gunshot wound is an example of a traumatic injury.
What is Pediatric Trauma?
Pediatric traumas represent the leading cause of death in children in our country. The injuries that children sustain may require emergency surgery or hospitalization, and survival rates are highest when prompt intervention is available. Pediatric traumas, such as severe sports injuries, automobile accidents, or drowning, require special knowledge and meticulous attention to detail.
Trauma Center Candidates
Any person who has sustained a life-threatening or severe injury may need to be treated in a trauma center. In many cases, this decision is made by first-responders and the emergency room physician with whom they discuss necessary patient care.
What Procedures Do Trauma Centers Focus On?
Trauma centers are hospital emergency departments that are staffed and equipped to manage major traumatic injuries that may result from a motor vehicle accident, fall, physical wound, or other incidents. Major trauma is described as any injury that could result in death or disability. Trauma center staff performs procedures that are necessary to prevent the loss of life or limb. When a patient arrives at a trauma center, medical personnel act quickly to address immediate needs. Medical assessment is critical and may involve imaging to determine the extent of injury and to develop an appropriate course of care.
Do All Trauma Centers Offer The Same Level Of Surgical Care?
Trauma centers are hospitals that have received accreditation to provide specialized care in areas including emergency medicine, critical care, radiology, anesthesiology, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, and nursing care. These medical centers are equipped with specific diagnostic imaging devices and interventions that stabilize traumatic injuries.
Not all trauma centers offer the same level of care. The American Trauma Society describes five different levels of care. They include:
- Level I: A complete care center that manages prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. Level I centers are often teaching hospitals that are also involved in research. Children and adults can be treated at a Level I facility.
- Level II: Like a Level I trauma center, Level II centers can treat children and adults utilizing a wide range of preventive, reparative, and rehabilitation modalities. The primary difference between a Level I and Level II center is the engagement in teaching and research. Level I and II trauma centers are equipped and staffed to manage the most severe injuries.
- Level III: This smaller center can provide emergency care to stabilize injured patients before transfer to a higher-level trauma center. Treatments may include resuscitation, surgery, and intensive care as needed.
- Level IV facilities can provide immediate care and life support before a patient is transferred to a higher-level facility.
- Level V facilities can assess and perform diagnostic and stabilization services for patients while arranging transfer to a higher-level facility.
Fortunately, patients rarely have to discern which level of trauma care facility they need to contact for care. Emergency care is often arranged by paramedics and physicians informed of the patient’s needs.
What is The Difference Between a Trauma Center and an Emergency Department?
Many people who experience a physical trauma receive care in an emergency room. However, not all emergency rooms qualify as trauma centers. An emergency room manages a wide range of situations, including the development of severe medical conditions and physical injuries. Depending on the severity of a traumatic injury, an emergency department may arrange for the patient to be transferred to a higher-level trauma center upon stabilization.
Trauma centers are typically integrated within a hospital’s emergency department. In lower-level facilities, staff assesses and stabilizes patients and treats certain conditions and injuries. Higher-level trauma centers are staffed with orthopedic surgeons, cardiac surgeons, neurosurgeons, trauma surgeons, and highly trained radiologists. Trauma centers also have 24-hour access to diagnostic equipment, laboratory services, and an operating room.
Emergency rooms are equipped to address strokes, broken bones, heart attacks, severe fever, stomach pain, and vomiting, minor burns, and fainting or loss of consciousness.
Trauma centers are equipped to address brain injuries, blunt trauma, major burns, stabbing or gunshot wounds, and traumatic injuries.