Trauma System Agenda for the Future


What is Trauma

What is Trauma Systems

The Vision

Executive Summary


Comprehensive Trauma Care System: Fundamental Components of Trauma Care

Comprehensive Trauma Care System: Key Infrastructure Elements





Education And advocacy

Current Status

Most Americans continue to view injuries as "accidents." As a result, there is little appreciation of injury as a public health disease or its relationship to public safety and public health issues. Moreover, in cases of intentional injury or those related to violence, in addition to being a public safety issue, these injuries also should also be seen as a public health problem that is amenable to prevention and treatment. With the aging of the population, there is an increasing frequency of injury to the already infirm.

There is a profound lack of public and legislative awareness about the scope of the injury problem and sources of payment. Most of what the public knows about injury and trauma care has been gleaned from the news and entertainment media where the focus is sensationalism and entertainment. There is little understanding of the operational components of a trauma system; most Americans believe that a trauma center actually represents the entire trauma system . There is also a significant gap between what the public expects related to local trauma care and the services that may actually exist within their community.

But the general public is not the only group that is poorly informed about injury prevention and trauma care. Aside from emergency and trauma care professionals, most health care providers do not have a clear understanding of how injury management relates to their individual practice, how trauma care systems operate or the costs associated with creating and maintaining these systems. Even those providers who complete clinical residency or fellowship programs in trauma care or related fields often lack a clear understanding of injury prevention and trauma system issues.

Finally, private and public policy officials frequently lack an appreciation of the nature of the injury problem as well as the value of trauma care in supporting the well being of a community. Current emphasis is on the cost of trauma care rather than the total benefit that injury management provides to a community.

The Vision

•  A compelling educational campaign will be launched to position trauma and injury as a disease rather than a random occurrence and to increase public awareness of the need for injury prevention and the value of trauma care.

•  Targeted educational programs will be developed to inform policy makers about the value of community-based trauma care in order to promote passage of legislation to support trauma system activities, including injury prevention.

•  Trauma care providers and advocates will form or integrate into coalitions with trade associations, large corporations (such as Johnson and Johnson's work with the Safe Kids campaign) and payers to conduct public education programs about injury and injury prevention and to advocate for legislation to support injury prevention and trauma system activities.

•  Health insurers will have a clear appreciation of the cost effectiveness of injury prevention and will provide incentives for safe behavior.

•  Communication, education, and training approaches for the public and key constituency groups will be thoroughly coordinated yet distinctly segmented and targeted to achieve maximum impact.

•  The number of injuries and trauma cases will be reduced through education and training of clinicians, management and administrative personnel, volunteers, community support groups, potential "bystanders," and other key constituency groups.

•  Trauma and injury prevention education and training will be increased for all healthcare professionals, beginning at post-graduate levels and continuing throughout their careers, appropriate to the level of their involvement in health risk assessment, primary care, or injury care. Physician, nursing, EMS, and allied health schools will include injury prevention information in their basic health assessment and patient education modules.

•  Advocacy efforts will facilitate passage of new laws designed to reduce injuries and trauma cases (based on evidence) and stronger enforcement of existing laws.

•  Tort reform will be enacted to facilitate greater access to trauma services and facilities.

•  There will be increased awareness of the vulnerability of the older population.