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The trauma patient is injured due to some external cause—a motor vehicle accident, a fall or a gunshot wound, for example. This patient arrives in the emergency department with a different set of needs than does someone who is critically ill—such as, someone having a heart attack. The medical response required to meet the needs of the trauma patient is complex.
Since the response is specialized, and must be delivered quickly, trauma patients are best served when they are cared for in a hospital that has made a commitment to specialize in their care—a trauma center. Studies have shown injured patients cared for in trauma centers have a mortality rate 25 percent lower than injured patients cared for in hospitals that are not trauma centers.
Many of the injured patients cared for in trauma centers are initially treated at a smaller, outlying facility. Once the patient arrives at the trauma center, he or she is met in the emergency room by the trauma team—at the ready 24/7 with a trauma surgeon and specialists, such as neurosurgeons—and the surgical team is at the ready in the operating room.
The team will quickly provide the treatments to stabilize the patient. Many of these patients will need emergency surgery and/or admittance to the Intensive Care Unit.