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This article is about the type of hospital. For the TV show, see Trauma Center (TV series). For the video game series, see Trauma Center (series).
Typical trauma room at Level I Trauma Center.

A trauma center is a hospital equipped and staffed to provide comprehensive emergency medical services to patients suffering traumatic injuries. Trauma centers grew into existence out of the realization that traumatic injury is a disease process unto itself requiring specialized and experienced multidisciplinary treatment and specialized resources.

A "Trauma Center", "Trauma Centre" is also called an "emergency department (ED)", also known as "accident & emergency (A&E)", "emergency room (ER)", or "casualty department".

In the United Kingdom it refers to a emergency medical centre (hospital) that is specialist to life threatening health conditions as it part of the new emergency centre format that also holds "Majors", "Minors", "Broken bones unit", "Women's unit" and "Walk-in Centres", which are housed around the word "accident & emergency (A&E)" or letter "H" for signage and maps, which is written on red background with white font ink, replacing the words "casualty" and "casualty department" as the directive under European Union harmonisations throu out the EU States. All emergency hospitals use red background signage and non emergency hospitals use blue background signage as under EU law directives. New hospitals are being built called "NHS Super hospitals" which are able to treat any health concern in-house. Super Hospitals and some previous A&E hospitals will normally have a helipad and have an assigned mobile trauma specialist teams called "Helimedical 999" team (air), "MAGPAS" team also called "RRV" (Rapid Response with Vehicle) and that a "RRV Paramedic" or "Trauma Doctor" using car or motorbike (on foot and push bike for some innercity built up areas) using NHS Ambulance logos will attend within a guidance of within four minutes for a grading of :- "Grade one trauma" (Police may attend before "RRV" arrives within four minutes), or "Red one" which is within eight minutes with two different RRV dispatched, or "Red two" which is eight minutes with one "RRV" dispatched. A normal emergency ambulance may follow up later with these graded "Red calls" to provide back up to "RRV". Less emergent life threatening conditions are called "Green 1/2/3/4" of which a "Green one" is a medical team to arrive within 20 minutes. Within the United Kingdom the NHS run these services free of charge but reserve the right to charge for non EU residents. To call for free emergency help available at anytime in the United Kingdom dial for free on 999 or 112 from any phone line or mobile phone, and within European Union 112. For non-emergency health concerns 24 hours a day within the UK you can dial for "NHS Choices" for health advice on 111, previously called "NHS Direct". This was brought in to stop non life threatening concerns using the 999 and "emergency centres" resources which as a free service that is causing a financial concern for the UK Government. Unlike USA and other countries, UK has a free health service to anyone, but due to the cost the UK Government reserve rights to charge for this service to anyone who is not a resident to a European Union Country. In the event of any emergency and you are concerned of any costs and you are not a resident of a European Union Country and you need emergency health / fire and rescue / police help within the United Kingdom you should still call the free to call 999 phone number immediately from any phone line or mobile phone and not worry about any cost.

According to the CDC, injuries are the leading cause of death for American children and adults ages 1–44. The leading causes of trauma are motor vehicle accidents, falls, and assaults with a deadly weapon.

In the United States, a hospital can receive trauma center verification by meeting specific criteria established by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and passing a site review by the Verification Review Committee.[1] Official designation as a trauma center is determined by individual state law provisions. Trauma centers vary in their specific capabilities and are identified by "Level" designation: Level-I (Level-1) being the highest, to Level-III (Level-3) being the lowest (some states have five designated levels, in which case Level-V (Level-5) is the lowest).

Higher levels of trauma centers will have trauma surgeons available, including those trained in such specialties as neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery,[2] a nurse specialist in trauma care,[3][4] as well as highly sophisticated medical diagnostic equipment. Lower levels of trauma centers may only be able to provide initial care and stabilization of a traumatic injury and arrange for transfer of the victim to a higher level of trauma care.

The operation of a trauma center is extremely expensive. Some areas—especially rural regions—are under-served by trauma centers because of this expense. As there is no way to schedule the need for emergency services, patient traffic at trauma centers can vary widely. A variety of methods have been developed for dealing with this.

A trauma center will often have a helipad for receiving patients that have been airlifted to the hospital. In many cases, persons injured in remote areas and transported to a distant trauma center by helicopter can receive faster and better medical care than if they had been transported by ground ambulance to a closer hospital that does not have a designated trauma center. The trauma level certification can directly affect the patient's outcome and determine if the patient needs to be transferred to a higher level trauma center.[citation needed]


The world's first trauma center, the first hospital to be established specifically to treat injured rather than ill patients, was the Birmingham Accident Hospital, which opened in Birmingham, England in 1941, after a series of studies found that the treatment of injured persons within England was inadequate. By 1947, the hospital had three trauma teams, each including two surgeons and an anaesthesiologist, and a burns team with three surgeons. The hospital became part of the National Health Service on its formation in July 1948 and closed in 1993.[5]

The concept of a shock trauma center was developed at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, in the 1950s and 1960s by thoracic surgeon and shock researcher R Adams Cowley, who founded what became the Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1960. The R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center is the first and longest running shock trauma center in the world.[6] Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois claims to be the second[6] trauma center (opened in 1966) in the United States.[7] Dr. David R. Boyd interned at Cook County Hospital from 1963 to 1964 before being drafted into the United States Army. Upon his release from the Army, Dr. Boyd became the first shock-trauma fellow at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, from 1967 to 1968. Boyd returned to Cook County Hospital, where he would later serve as resident director of the Cook County Trauma Unit.[8]

Definitions in the United States[edit]

In the United States, trauma centers are ranked by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), from Level I (comprehensive service) to Level III (limited-care). The different levels refer to the types 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. Level I and Level II designations are also given adult and or pediatric designations.[9] Additionally, some states have their own trauma-center rankings separate from the ACS. These levels may range from Level I to Level IV. Some hospitals are less-formally designated Level V.

The ACS does not officially designate hospitals as trauma centers. Numerous US hospitals that are not verified by ACS claim trauma center designation. Most states have legislation which determines the process for designation of trauma centers within their state. The ACS describes that responsibility as "a geopolitical process by which empowered entities, government or otherwise, are authorized to designate." The ACS's self-appointed mission is limited to confirming and reporting on any given hospital's ability to comply with the ACS standard of care known as Resources for Optimal Care of the Injured Patient.[10]

The Trauma Information Exchange Program (TIEP)[11] is a program of the American Trauma Society in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. TIEP maintains an inventory of trauma centers in the US, collects data and develops information related to the causes, treatment and outcomes of injury, and facilitates the exchange of information among trauma care institutions, care providers, researchers, payers and policy makers.


Note: A trauma center is a hospital that is designated by a state or local authority or is verified by the American College of Surgeons.[12]

Level I[edit]

A Level I trauma center provides the highest level of surgical care to trauma patients. Being treated at a Level I Trauma Center increases a seriously injured patient’s chances of survival by an estimated 20 to 25 percent.[13] It has a full range of specialists and equipment available 24 hours a day[14] and admits a minimum required annual volume of severely injured patients.

A Level I trauma center is required to have a certain number of the following people on duty 24 hours a day at the hospital:

Key elements include 24‑hour in‑house coverage by general surgeons and prompt availability of care in varying specialties — such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, plastic surgery (plastic surgeons often have expertise in dealing with upper extremity and facial injuries; they play a crucial role in assessing, debriding and reconstructing the full spectrum of soft tissue defects), anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, internal medicine, oral and maxillofacial surgery and otolaryngology (trained to treat injuries of the facial skin, muscles, bones), and critical care, which are needed to adequately respond and care for various forms of trauma that a patient may suffer and rehabilitation services.

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.[15]

Level II[edit]

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.

Level III[edit]

A Level III trauma center does not have the full availability of specialists, but does have resources for emergency resuscitation, surgery, and intensive care of most trauma patients. A Level III center has transfer agreements with Level I or Level II trauma centers that provide back-up resources for the care of patients with exceptionally severe injuries (e.g., multiple trauma).[15]

Level IV[edit]

A Level IV trauma center exists in some states where the resources do not exist for a Level III trauma center. It provides initial evaluation, stabilization, diagnostic capabilities, and transfer to a higher level of care. It may also provide surgery and critical-care services, as defined in the scope of services for trauma care. A trauma-trained nurse is immediately available, and physicians are available upon the patient's arrival to the Emergency Department. Transfer agreements exist with other trauma centers of higher levels, for use when conditions warrant a transfer.[15][16]

Level V[edit]

Provides initial evaluation, stabilization, diagnostic capabilities, and transfer to a higher level of care. May provide surgical and critical-care services, as defined in the service's scope of trauma-care services. A trauma-trained nurse is immediately available, and physicians are available upon patient arrival in the Emergency Department. If not open 24 hours daily, the facility must have an after-hours trauma response protocol.

Pediatric trauma centers[edit]

A facility can be designated an adult trauma center, a pediatric trauma center, or an adult & pediatric trauma center. If a hospital provides trauma care to both adult and pediatric patients, the Level designation may not be the same for each group. For example, a Level I adult trauma center may also be a Level II pediatric trauma center. This is because pediatric trauma surgery is a specialty unto itself. Adult trauma surgeons are not generally specialized in providing surgical trauma care to children, and vice versa, and the difference in practice is significant.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Verification Review Committee
  2. ^ Andrew B., MD Peitzman; Andrew B. Peitzman; Michael, MD Sabom; Donald M., MD Yearly; Timothy C., MD Fabian (2002). The Trauma Manual. Hagerstwon, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 3. ISBN 0-7817-2641-7. 
  3. ^ Consultation/Verification Program Reference Guide of Suggested Classification
  4. ^ American College of Surgeons (2006). Consultation/Verification Program, Reference Guide of Suggested Classification. American College of Surgeons. p. 3. ISBN 0-7817-2641-7. 
  5. ^ Wilson, William C. (2007). "History of Trauma". Trauma: Emergency Resuscitation, Perioperative Anesthesia, Surgical Management 1. New York: CRC Press. p. 18. ISBN 0824729196. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  6. ^ a b "R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center History". University of Maryland Medical Center. 27 March 2008. 
  7. ^ "Old Cook County Hospital page". Cook County Hospital. 
  8. ^ "National Safety Council Presents David R. Boyd, MDCM, FACS, With Service to Safety Award". American College of Surgeons. 
  9. ^ ACS Verification Site Visit Outcomes
  10. ^ "About the VRC Program". American College of Surgeons. 
  11. ^ Trauma Information Exchange Program, American Trauma Society
  12. ^ Trauma Center Designation and Verification by Level of Trauma Care, Trauma Information Exchange Program, American Trauma Society
  13. ^ "Stanford University Medical Center Releases Community Benefits Summary". Lucile Packard Children's Hospital (Press release). Stanford University Medical Center. 2008. 
  14. ^ Ackerman, Todd (2011-03-25). "UTMB trauma center Level 1 again". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-03-26. 
  15. ^ a b c Public Relations. "Trauma & Critical Care Center-Trauma Center levels". Khon Kaen Regional Hospital (in Thai). Thailand: Department of Hospital Health. 
  16. ^ "Emergency Trauma Center". Pioneers Medical Center. Meeker, Colorado. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 

External links[edit]

State trauma system regulation[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trauma_center — Please support Wikipedia.
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