Tag Archives: verification


Level I and II trauma centers are considered resource centers in that they have very robust capabilities in terms of surgical specialties and other services. But no trauma system is complete unless there are a sufficient number of potential feeder centers to ensure that quality trauma care is available outside the usual catchment area of the resource centers.

Level III trauma centers have physician staffed emergency departments, solid orthopedic coverage, and varying degrees of neurosurgical expertise (from none to equivalent to a Level I). Designated Level III centers can frequently keep a variety of patients that would otherwise require transfer.

But what about Level IV centers? They are not required to have any trauma-related surgical specialties or even physicians staffing the ED for designation purposes. The expectation is that nearly all patients will be transferred upstream to a resource trauma center. What is the advantage to pursuing designation if you are still not going to be able to keep patients?

One obvious reason is that injured patients will still be brought to your hospital, especially if it is located in a rural area. But surely there must be other reasons, right? The Penn Medicine group in Lancaster PA examined registry data from the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation over a six year period, focusing on hospitals that became new Level IV centers during that time interval. They looked at demographics, injury severity, mortality, and incidence of surgical intervention.

Here are the factoids:

  • Five hospitals underwent their initial accreditation as a Level IV center during the study period, and about 5000 total patient cases were reviewed during their pre- and post-designation periods
  • There were no differences in patient demographics or injury severity before or after designation
  • The transfer rate remained steady at 63% before and after
  • There was a trend toward decreased mortality (p = 0.09)
  • There was also a trend toward fewer surgical interventions before patient transfer, after designation

Here are some questions for the authors and presenter to consider in advance to help them prepare for audience questions:

  • I presume that the observation of trends and the failure to achieve statistical significance are due to the small sample of centers, correct? Unfortunately, this is not avoidable due to the number of hospitals entering into the system.
  • During your presentation, be sure to show the audience absolute numbers and basic statistics for your findings. Adjusted odds ratios are not as well understood by the average brain.
  • Do you have any suggestions for additional research that would help show a significant mortality advantage, since additional registry data will not be of help?
  • How do you expect that Level IV wannabes or existing Level IV centers will interpret this study?

I’m looking forward to hearing this presentation in person next week!

Reference: Early analysis of Level IV trauma centers within an organized trauma system. EAST 2019, Quick Shot paper #10.

Trauma Centers: The 30-Minute Rules for Orthopedic Surgery and Neurosurgery

I’m kicking of a week-long series for trauma program leaders that explains the details of a trauma center requirement that creates confusion for many. With the adoption of the 2014 Resources for Optimal Care of the Injured Patient (i.e. The Orange Book), a number of new requirements were introduced to obtain and maintain status as an American College of Surgeons verified trauma center. One (or actually two) of the requirements for Level I and II centers are known collectively as the 30-minute rules.

The 30-minute rules apply to both orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons. They state that care must be continuously available and that a service representative “must be present and respond within 30 minutes based on institutional-specific criteria.” And most who peruse the Orange Book have already realized, any phrase that contains the word must denotes that failure to meet the requirement will result in a deficiency during a site review, whereas the word shall means that it will likely result in a weakness.

For the rest of the week, I’ll work through these requirements. I will describe what they mean and what some typical institutional-specific criteria are. I will explain who is actually required to respond. I’ll work through the logistics of being able to accurately record their response time, and offer best practices for how to capture it. And finally, I’ll look at the consequences of not meeting these criteria.

Tomorrow: Typical criteria for orthopedic surgery and orthopedics.