American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Today in America, more people survive serious injury than any time in the past.1 Yet trauma—which includes car crashes, falls, head injuries, burns, and firearm injuries—remains the leading cause of death for those ages 44 and younger, and it causes more years of life lost and disability than any other disease including cancer and heart disease.2

Think about that. The nation also spends $670 billion a year caring for injured patients and helping them recover and return to their normal lives, but very few are aware of this problem.3

In fact, trauma has been characterized as the “neglected epidemic of our time.”4 The nation currently has no Federal leadership for trauma care, trauma research that would contribute to improved outcomes is significantly underfunded, and more than one-third of Americans live in regions of the country not covered by a complete trauma system.5 As a result, up to one in five deaths from trauma could be prevented if advances in trauma care reach all Americans.6

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) and other trauma stakeholders take this issue very seriously, because they are the ones on the front lines, trying to repair the lives of those who come into their medical facilities with traumatic injuries such as brain injury, internal bleeding, broken bones, and so on.

In a series of stories, “Putting the Pieces Together: A National Effort to Complete the U.S. Trauma System,” we’ll take a look at the history of trauma care and the trauma system in America. We’ll explore partnerships with the military to translate battlefield lessons to the homefront and back again, the challenges facing America’s trauma systems, and the steps leading experts are taking to fill the gaps in the system and achieve the goal of zero preventable deaths and disability from injury.

Part 1: A Brief History of Trauma Systems
The history of trauma care in America parallels our history of caring for injured military personnel during war.

Part 2: Why the U.S. Trauma System Needs a Robust Civilian-Military Partnerships
Innovations shared between military and civilian trauma systems have saved lives on the battlefield and on the homefront. These lessons are serving as a model for one national trauma system inclusive of military and civilian care.

Part 3: Sixty-Year Military-Civilian Partnership Serves as a Model for the National Trauma System
A military-civilian partnership has helped the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center grow into one of the largest and most successful trauma centers in the United States.

Part 4: America’s Incomplete Trauma System

America’s trauma system has achieved dramatic advances over the past 50 years. But that progress hasn’t reached every injured patient yet. In our fourth article, we outline the gaps that need to be closed in the system.

Part 5: The Time Is Now: Creating and Sustaining a Unified, Learning Trauma System

Great strides have been made in developing an optimal trauma system in many areas of the U.S, with particular focus on trauma centers. Based in part on the work done in the civilian sector, there have been significant advances in the military’s trauma system—advances that could, in turn, greatly benefit the civilian trauma system.