Established by statute in 1998, the Mississippi Trauma Care System has touched more than 239,000 lives in the past two decades through its effort to deliver the right patient to the right hospital the first time, saving valuable time and increasing the likelihood of surviving a traumatic injury.
“Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for Mississippians up to 44 years of age, with motor vehicle crashes accounting for 46 percent of all external causes of death,” said Jim Craig, Director of Health Protection for the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). “The Trauma Care System has proven to be vital to Mississippi.”
Craig added that between 2006 and 2016, the total number of Mississippi trauma cases increased by 28 percent. Despite that increase, adult death rates from trauma in the same period actually decreased by 2 percent and pediatric death rates decreased by 2.4 percent, thanks in part to the success of the state Trauma Care System.
The Trauma Care System is one of three statewide systems of care designed to establish a common protocol for first responders to identify specific life-threatening conditions, provide specialized treatment in the field, and transport the patient to designated facilities to provide appropriate care quickly. These three systems – Trauma, Stroke and ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) – have been shown to save lives in critical circumstances compared to traditional systems of response and treatment.
In 2008, Mississippi set a national standard for trauma system development by mandating hospital participation based on ability. Based on a “play or pay” structure, the model required hospitals to contribute funding annually to the state Trauma Care System if they have the resources to participate as a Level I, II or III trauma center, but choose not to do so. Each hospital’s participation potential is assessed by the MSDH each year.
There are 86 designated and participating trauma centers in the Mississippi Trauma Care System: four Level I facilities, three Level II facilities, 16 Level III facilities, 62 Level IV facilities, and one Burn Center. Additionally, Mississippi has 32 licensed aeromedical aircraft, and 99.8 percent of the state is served by paramedic-level ground ambulance services ready to respond at any given time.
“The system works. Both the structure of it and the financial backing contribute to lives being saved,” said Craig. “Getting trauma victims to designated trauma centers equipped and staffed to immediately provide trauma care saves lives in Mississippi no matter whether you live in a city or in a rural county.”
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