Trauma Care Fragmented, Study Finds

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , August 23, 2010

He compiled a map of the United States showing death rates due to trauma per 100,000 population, travel times to the nearest trauma center and populations of surgeons. It shows a shortage of surgeons and gaps in regional trauma systems, which Eastman says has stymied access to timely, appropriate trauma care in many areas of the country.

As a result, Eastman wrote, death rates due to trauma are unnecessarily high in those areas, contributing to the fact that trauma is the leading cause of death for people 45 and younger in the United States and in developing countries.

His survey of trauma surgeons in each state shows that 38% of states reported having no statewide trauma system. Of the 62% of states that have a statewide trauma system, for most, funding to sustain these systems is in jeopardy.

"Everyone living or traveling in the U.S. should be able to expect prompt transport to the appropriate level of care proportionate with their injuries," Eastman wrote. "That's the vision when I say that wherever the dart lands on a map of the U.S., there should be a system to take care of your traumatic injury."

Eastman wrote that the sophisticated military trauma systems in Iraq and Afghanistan are an ideal trauma model, and he called on surgeons to advocate for trauma systems in states or regions where developed systems are still lacking.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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