Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lack of state trauma systems kills rural Americans

Rural Americans are dying from accidents because their states lack systems to designate hospitals to treat trauma victims, Laura Ungar reports today in The Courier-Journal.

"Trauma systems are designed to get injured patients the care they need as quickly as possible within a 'golden hour' in which survival is more likely," Ungar writes for the Louisville newspaper. "In states with trauma systems, more hospitals are encouraged to develop certain levels of expertise, paramedics and emergency medical technicians are trained in where to take patients, medical professionals coordinate services and a registry tracks trends."

States without trauma systems are Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin. Indiana and Alabama recently started state systems. For a detailed, state-by-state rundown from the American College of Surgeons, click here.

Ungar reports that a bill to start a system in Kentucky "faces obstacles -- legislators wary of spending the millions it would require, rural hospitals concerned about the costs of becoming trauma centers and already-overburdened rural doctors worried that their on-call workloads would increase." (Read more)

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