Trauma centers: Things you need but didn’t know you needed
Trauma is the leading cause of death for those 46 years and younger in the United States; yet, not every hospital has a trauma center. Learn more about trauma centers and our statewide network of care.
Think about some things you didn't know you needed ... or hoped you’d never need ... until you do. A fire extinguisher. A clone of your toddler’s stuffed animal; the one that you lost on vacation and she can't sleep without. Yep, pretty smart thinking on your part to have these items on hand in a situation. That's how it is with trauma centers — specialized units within an emergency room that are equipped to treat major traumatic injuries. We hope you never need one, but if you or someone you love suffers a serious or life-threatening injury, it's nice to know there are a number of them around the Sunshine State.
Why we need trauma centers
Trauma is the leading cause of death for those 46 years and younger in the United States; and, across the globe, the World Health Organization (WHO) attributes more than 5 million deaths annually to traumatic injuries. In countries with trauma center care, however, a 2020 article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information estimated over 2 million lives could be saved annually via care through a trauma system.
Where trauma centers are located
Not every hospital has a trauma center as the resources and staff required to maintain one require a true commitment to providing comprehensive regional care for every aspect of injury — from prevention through rehabilitation. Trauma centers are specialized units within an emergency room (ER) that are equipped to treat major traumatic injuries, including:
- Brain injuries, such as concussions
- Crush injuries
- Electrical injuries
- Major burns
- Puncture wounds
- Spine fractures and other broken bones with the potential to cause long-term disability or death
Trauma center services complement traditional hospital and emergency department services and enhance the level of care that hospitals provide to the communities they serve.
The process to becoming a designated trauma center is voluntary. Hospitals seeking the designation must operate as a trauma center for one year before they can apply for verification by the American College of Surgeons.
Who works in a trauma center
Our trauma centers are equipped with specific resources and trauma specialists who are specially trained to provide fast, expert treatment and care to severely injured patients. One of the ways we do this is through our partnership with the University of South Florida (USF) Health to form a statewide trauma network.
Our network of expert providers is committed to improving access to quality trauma care and services in Florida. Our trauma team may include:
- Critical care specialists
- Emergency physicians and physicians assistants
- Emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
- Internal medicine doctors
- Specialized trauma physicians and surgeons
The above list is in addition to hundreds of trauma care experts who work in collaboration with our other emergency care providers to help you heal quickly and effectively.
Trauma center levels
Trauma centers are categorized into four levels. At HCA Florida, our trauma network includes eight Level II trauma programs and one Level I trauma program (the highest level of trauma care).
According to the American Trauma Society, elements of a Level I trauma center include:
- 24-hour in-house coverage by general surgeons and prompt availability of specialties such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial, pediatric and critical care
- Providing leadership in prevention and public education to surrounding communities
- Providing continuing education for the trauma team members.
- Operating an organized teaching and research effort to help advance innovations in trauma care
- Providing a program for substance abuse screening and patient intervention
- Operating as a referral resource for communities in nearby regions
What to do if you need emergency care
If you or a loved one is experiencing a medical emergency it’s important to seek medical care immediately. Find the closest HCA Florida Healthcare emergency room or learn more about our emergency care services here.