According to the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, more than 150,000 deaths are the result of injury each year in the United States. In fact, physical trauma is the number one cause of death for people 45 years old and younger.1 So, what can healthcare providers do to improve outcomes for trauma patients and drive this yearly death rate down, especially in rural areas?
While there are many factors in any given traumatic injury that can ultimately contribute to a patient’s death – for example, the existing heart disease of someone who sustained a severe electrical shock – there are two critical factors that are consistently present in every life-threatening trauma that also plays a role in impacting patient outcome:
- Proximity to an appropriate trauma center
- The efficiency in which a sending hospital initiates, oversees, and completes patient transfer
To better understand how healthcare providers can gain more control over these two factors and help improve the outcomes of their trauma patients, we need to first understand the footprint of American’s Trauma Center Network.
Navigating the Trauma Center network
There’s an expansive network of trauma centers throughout the US, with each center designated as Level I, Level II, Level III, Level IV, or Level V. The criteria that determine a trauma center’s level vary from state to state, but generally a Level I Trauma Center can provide total care for the most critical injuries, while a Level V Trauma Center can offer basic emergency department services and has trauma nurse(s) and physicians available upon a patient’s arrival.2
Rural states, however, tend to have fewer Level I Trauma Centers. Additionally, rural hospitals that are a part of the trauma network are usually more spread out across greater geographic distances than those in urban areas. For example, Montana is the fourth largest state with over 145,000 square miles of land,3 yet it has no designated Level I Trauma Centers. (It does have 4 Level II Trauma Centers and 3 Level III Trauma Centers.)4
So, if an EMS team brings a trauma patient to a Level III Trauma Center in Montana for stabilization, but the hospital determines the patient needs the care of at least a Level II Trauma Center, then there’s little time to waste in coordinating patient transfer.
Fortunately, with a greater insight into which surrounding hospital is most capable of providing the necessary level of care (weighed against geographic distance, patient condition, and other variables), plus the ability to designate the mode of transport and oversee patient movement in an efficient manner, the sending hospital can efficiently and rapidly manage and oversee every aspect of the patient’s transfer to a Level II Trauma Center.
Improving trauma outcomes with Mission Control
With Mission Control, Motient’s SaaS platform, healthcare providers in or out of the Trauma Center network can coordinate the most appropriate and efficient transport possible for stabilized patients.
Sending hospitals in rural areas can use Mission Control to gain real-time insight into the capabilities and capacities of surrounding Trauma Centers. Informed by their own patient assessment and guided by the previously inaccessible data delivered to them via Mission Control, healthcare providers can better ensure that trauma patients receive the appropriate care they need as fast as possible. Mission Control helps them to rapidly determine the receiving hospital most likely to optimize a patient outcome, arrange the appropriate ground or air transport, and coordinate with all stakeholders – from EMS teams to the receiving hospital – seamlessly and in real-time, every step of the way.