HCA and USF Health announced today that they are forming a statewide trauma network dedicated to improving access to quality trauma care and services in Florida.

The joint initiative will enable five HCA hospitals to meet local needs for trauma services through an affiliation with a major academic university and medical school. Florida residents also will benefit from centralized statewide data collection for trauma research and coordination of services not readily accessible in underserved areas of the state.

Today only about 38 percent of trauma patients in Florida receive treatment in a designated trauma center, below both the national average and the state’s goal to have 65 percent of trauma patients treated in a Florida licensed trauma center.

“Getting a patient to a trauma center within the first hour of injury, or golden hour, drastically increases their chance of survival,’” said Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD, MSHA,FACP, FACMI, president clinical services and Chief Medical Officer for HCA. “Research supported by the Centers for Disease Control shows trauma mortality is reduced when a seriously injured patient is treated at a trauma center versus a non-trauma hospital.“

In Florida, the leading cause of trauma injury is motor vehicle crashes, accounting for 42.8 percent of all injuries in 2008. Motor vehicle injury fatality rates are strongly associated with distance from trauma center to the site of the injury event, according to A Comprehensive Assessment of the Florida Trauma Center, conducted by USF and UF for the Florida Department of Health. The assessment further noted that a county’s overall mortality rate is higher if a trauma center is not present.

“It is absolutely critical that we expand access to trauma care to state-designated trauma service areas not currently being served,” said Dr. Perlin. “Trauma centers deliver superior outcomes for their patients and we are excited to have USF join us as we work to improve the access to quality trauma care in Florida.”

The new network’s focus on quality patient care and expanded research initiatives will help improve trauma care across Florida, said Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, dean of the USF College of Medicine and CEO of USF Health.

“Our goal is to have Florida be the safest state in the nation,” Dr. Klasko said. “This network will provide the state’s trauma patients with consistent and state-of-the-art care.”

The network will provide an invaluable source of trauma research data, said, David J. Smith Jr., MD, chair of the USF Department of Surgery. As part of the affiliation agreement, the HCA hospitals will convey data to a centralized analysis center at USF Health -- the new Florida Trauma Research and Analysis Center (TRAC).

“Trends that might not be identified by looking at one hospital’s data may show up by looking at five,” Dr. Smith said. “Florida TRAC will help doctors learn how to better treat trauma patients, whether they are injured in car crashes or suffering from heart attacks.”

The combination of breadth of services at HCA throughout Florida with the research and education capabilities of one the fastest growing research medical schools will serve to make the citizens of Florida healthier and allow Florida to take a leadership role in the future of healthcare.

"It will be increasingly important for health care providers throughout the state to collaborate and consolidate, especially in the areas of research and education,” said Charles Paidas, MD, MBA, associate dean for graduate medical education. “Working with HCA will allow us to expand our areas of excellence, and the end result will be a healthier community.”

USF will name a chief trauma medical director to oversee the network and appoint a medical director of trauma at each hospital, as well as helping to recruit needed specialists.

The affiliation agreement will provide for USF’s collaboration and expertise at these five HCA facilities: Blake Medical Center (Manatee County), Kendall Regional Medical Center (Dade County), Lawnwood Medical Center (St Lucie County), Orange Park Medical Center (Clay County) and Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point (Pasco County). All have applied for Level II Trauma Center designation. Lawnwood already is approved and operating, and the other four hospitals are in various stages of the application process.

In May 2009, Lawnwood Regional Medical Center opened a trauma program that has already served close to 1,000 patients. According to Perlin, the program has far exceeded anticipated benefits, not only for trauma patients but for the community as a whole. “All patients benefit from the collaboration, energy and medical expertise a trauma program brings to a hospital and to a community,” Dr. Perlin said.

The affiliation agreement is an example of how USF Health is working to help improve the health of all Florida residents, Dr. Klasko said.

“In a time of great healthcare transformation, it’s more important than ever that the state’s top medical schools work with hospitals throughout the state to provide the best care,” Dr. Klasko said. “This affiliation agreement will be a major step in that direction.”

tags: community , trauma