NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Number of Hospital Trauma Centers Increasing

March 27, 2003

The potential for terrorist attacks makes hospital trauma centers an important part of homeland security. Trauma centers that benefit the thousands of individuals injured every day also pay a critical role in responding to mass casualties from disasters and injuries possibility resulting from weapons of mass destruction. A recent study looked at the number, configuration and coverage by trauma centers in the United States.

  • The last accounting found 471 trauma centers in the United States in 1991.
  • In 2002 there were 1,154 not including 31 that only treated children.
  • Of these, 190 are level I (highest designation) trauma centers while 263 are level II. The remaining 701 fall into levels III, IV and V.

Trauma centers are organized to respond to unplanned multiple casualties that often tax existing resources and use a team approach that involves specialists from throughout the hospital.

  • Trauma centers are associated with an 8 percent drop in motor vehicle accident deaths.
  • Moreover, when severely injured patients are treated at trauma centers, the number of "preventable deaths" falls by 50 percent.

Although the number of trauma centers has risen since 1991, obstacles in coverage still remain. The number of level I and II trauma centers (per million population) in each state ranges from a low of 0.19 to a high 7.80.

Source: Ellen J. MacKenzie, "National Inventory of Hospital Trauma Centers," Journal of the American Medical Association, March 26, 2003.

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