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






Trauma kills. Trauma maims. Trauma is a disease; it is not an accident.

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. 4

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 and disasters.

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.