Like heart disease and cancer, trauma has identifiable causes with
established methods of treatment and defined methods of prevention.
Much can and should be done to reduce the incidence of trauma and to
improve trauma treatment in this country.
Most commonly, injury happens to one or two individuals at a time. Less
frequently, disasters strike tens or hundreds of people at once. Injury
results from motor vehicle collisions, falls, stabbings and gunshot wounds,
or other blunt or penetrating forces. Injuries also may be caused by
an act of terrorism utilizing explosives and/or chemical, biological
or nuclear agents.
In 1995, in the United States, nearly 148,000 lives were cut short due
to trauma. 4 To add to the tragedy, most of those lost were young. Ten
times that number of Americans survive traumatic events, only to face
the future with life-long disability that takes its toll not only on
the injured themselves but also on their families and the community.
The total cost of injury in the United States in 1995 was estimated
at $260 billion and injury and its consequences accounted for 12 percent
of all medical spending. 4 These costs do not take into account all the
other economic and quality-of-life factors of the cost on injury.
Consider the experience of hundreds of thousands of injured people each
year, whether the injury occurs as a single incident or as part of a
national disaster, such as the Oklahoma City bombing or the attacks on
September 11, 2001. The emotional and financial impact is devastating.
Prevention activities could keep many from experiencing trauma. For others,
improved systems of care for the injured can increase the chances of
optimal recovery. Regardless of the number of injured or the source of
injury, advanced planning, preparation, and coordination are essential
for optimal response and care.
Responding to a growing trauma problem and ever increasing trauma care
challenges, stakeholders including the American Trauma Society, the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Health Resources and Services
Administration, the American College of Surgeons, the American College
of Emergency Physicians, Society of Trauma Nurses, the National Association
of State EMS Directors, the National Association of EMS Physicians, among
others, developed an action plan for the nation and all persons and organizations
involved in trauma care. The plan addresses the prevention of trauma
and improvement of care of injuries resulting from both day-to-day emergencies
This report presents a Trauma System Agenda for the Future, reflecting
the synergism of ideas generated from literally hundreds of professionals
and based on decades of experience. These professionals believe this
is the appropriate time to launch a new initiative, attacking trauma
on all fronts to make a difference to our country and to each victim
or potential victim.