Allegiance Pursuing Trauma Verification to Treat Severely Injured

Being verified as a trauma center assures the community the health system has met the rigorous requirements necessary to care for critically injured patients.

Allegiance Health announced its plans today to pursue verification as a Level II trauma center. Although Allegiance has been recognized by independent organizations as one of the best hospitals in Michigan for emergency care, being officially verified as a trauma center assures the community, health care providers and regulatory bodies that the health system has met the rigorous requirements necessary to care for critically injured patients across the entire continuum of care.

Verification Will Save Lives of Jackson Residents

The American College of Surgeons, the organization that oversees trauma center verification nationally, has four trauma center designation levels. A Level II center, the level Allegiance is pursuing, is qualified to provide comprehensive trauma care to severely injured patients, including those who have had major automobile accidents, sporting accidents, falls, head injuries and spinal injuries. “Because of our close proximity to Highway 94 and the number of people who enjoy motor activities on our many lakes, we see large numbers of patients with traumatic injuries at Allegiance,” said Mark Smith, MD, medical director of the Emergency Department.

While the Allegiance care team has historically provided stabilization and initial care for patients with traumatic injuries, verification as a Level II trauma center will allow the team to treat and admit the most severely injured patients, providing the highest level of care for our community. According to Dr. Smith, “Once Allegiance is verified as a Level II trauma center, very few patients will have to experience the 40-minute ambulance ride or helicopter transport ride to another facility. They will be cared for here in Jackson. For the most severely injured, eliminating that transport time can mean the difference between surviving or not.”

Additional lives will potentially be saved as a result of a state law, passed but as yet unfunded, that would require ambulances to take patients with certain injuries to the nearest verified trauma center. A person injured in Jackson County would therefore be transported to Lansing, Kalamazoo or Ann Arbor, locations of existing trauma centers, if Allegiance did not have trauma verification. Wasted minutes in transit to distant cities are often critical to survival.

Strict Quality of Care Standards Monitored Regularly

The final step for Allegiance in the multi-year verification process will culminate in 2014 with a site visit from the American College of Surgeons. Once verified, Allegiance will then be required to re-verify every three years. These strict standards emphasize quality, community education, injury prevention, response time and staffing. “Meeting the rigorous verification quality standards is challenging,” said Trauma Program Manager Madonna Walters, RN. “However, the lives of Jacksonians are at stake – nothing less than excellent quality is acceptable.”

The Allegiance Emergency Department treated more than 13,200 injured patients in 2011, with injuries ranging from mild to severe. More than 5,400 Michigan residents die each year from injuries, and the leading cause of fatal injury is motor vehicle crashes. In Jackson County alone, 1,172 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2010. “Many people would be surprised to know that trauma is the leading cause of death for people age 44 and younger – more deaths than cancer and heart disease combined,” said Dr. Smith. “Allegiance will help reduce the tragic impact of severe injuries by becoming a Level II trauma center.”

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