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Medical City Healthcare

Trauma centers: Things you may need

We hope you never need a trauma center, but if you or someone you love suffers a serious or life-threatening injury, it’s nice to know they’re there.

October 14, 2022
A nurse wearing blue scrubs smiles while standing in a patient exam room in an emergency room.

Think about some things you didn't know you needed — or hoped you’d never need —  until you do. A fire extinguisher. A clone of your toddler’s stuffed animal; the one that you lost on vacation and she can't sleep without. Yep, pretty smart thinking on your part to have these items on hand in a situation. That's how it is with trauma centers. We hope you never need one, but if you or someone you love suffers a serious or life-threatening injury, it's nice to know there are a number of them around North Texas.

Why we need trauma centers

According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, 44 Texans died every day from injuries and violence in 2018 — more than 16,000 for the year. Traumatic injuries are the leading cause of death in persons aged one to 44 years old. For every trauma victim who dies, at least six are seriously injured. These sobering statistics demonstrate that having a trauma center nearby can mean the difference between life and death for more than 100,000 Texans annually.

Where trauma centers are located

Not every hospital is a trauma center, as the resources and staff required to maintain one require a true commitment to providing comprehensive regional care for every aspect of injury — from prevention through rehabilitation. Therefore, trauma centers are located in hospitals equipped with specific resources and trauma specialists. These trauma experts are specially trained to provide treatment and care to severely injured patients. Traumatic injuries can include motor vehicle accidents and falls, among others.

Trauma center services complement traditional hospital and emergency department services and enhance the level of care that hospitals provide to the communities they serve.

The process to becoming a designated trauma center is voluntary. Hospitals seeking the designation must operate as a trauma center for one year before they can apply for verification by the American College of Surgeons.

Trauma center levels

Trauma centers are categorized by levels, from I through IV. Level I is the highest level of trauma care for the most seriously injured patients. In North Texas, the first and only hospital in Collin County to achieve Level I Trauma Center classification is Medical City Plano, which received verification from the American College of Surgeons and designation from the Texas Department of State Health Services in May 2017 and continues to be recertified.

Medical City Plano's Trauma I designation is strongly connected to its burn center, the first and only unit of its kind in Collin County.

Trauma surgeon Matt Carrick, MD, trauma director at Medical City Plano, explains the difference in trauma levels and why having a Level I trauma center in Collin County is so important to the community.

According to the American Trauma Society, elements of a Level I trauma center include:

  • 24-hour in-house coverage by general surgeons and prompt availability of specialties such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial, pediatric and critical care
  • Providing leadership in prevention and public education to surrounding communities
  • Providing continuing education for the trauma team members.
  • Operating an organized teaching and research effort to help advance innovations in trauma care
  • Providing a program for substance abuse screening and patient intervention
  • Operating as a referral resource for communities in nearby regions

What to do if you need emergency care

  • Call 911 for potentially life-threatening situations
  • Head to the ER for more serious injuries and illnesses that are not life threatening but require the specially skilled people and equipment found only in emergency rooms
  • When in doubt, call 911 or go to the nearest ER

It can often be difficult to know when to go to the ER, especially when children are involved. Here are some helpful links:

Medical City Healthcare has 11 trauma centers located throughout the DFW area, including Level II Trauma Centers at Medical City Arlington, Medical City Denton and Medical City McKinney.

Medical City Healthcare provides comprehensive emergency services across North Texas.

At Medical City Healthcare, we’re dedicated to the care and improvement of human life. So, we hope you’ll Take Care!

For more information, call our Ask a Nurse hotline 24/7 or use Find a Doctor online.

You can also get care for minor injuries or illness at one of the many DFW CareNow® Urgent Care locations, with convenient Web Check-In® so you can wait in the comfort of your home.

Published:
October 14, 2022

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