What is a Trauma Center?

Not every hospital is a trauma center, as the resources and staff required to maintain a trauma center require a true commitment to providing comprehensive regional care for every aspect of injury from prevention through rehabilitation. Trauma centers are located in hospitals equipped with specific resources and trauma specialists. These trauma experts are specially trained to provide treatment and care to severely injured patients. Traumatic injuries can include motor vehicle accidents and falls, among others.

Trauma center services complement traditional hospital and emergency department services and enhance the level of care that hospitals provide to the communities they serve.

Why Do We Need Trauma Centers?

According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 30 Texans die every day from injuries—about 10,000 each year. Traumatic injuries are the leading cause of death in persons aged 1 to 44 years old. For every trauma victim who dies, at least six are seriously injured. These sobering statistics demonstrate that having a trauma center nearby can mean the difference between life and death for no less than 60,000 Texans annually.

What are Trauma Center Levels?

Trauma centers are designated at the state or local level and some require verification by the American College of Surgeons. While requirements vary by state, here are common criteria for trauma centers as listed by the American Trauma Society.

Level I

A Level I Trauma Center is capable of providing total care for every aspect of injury from prevention through rehabilitation.

Elements of Level I Trauma Centers include:

  • 24-hour in-house coverage by trauma general surgeons and prompt availability of care in specialties such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial, pediatric and critical care
  • Referral resource for communities in nearby regions
  • Provides leadership in prevention, public education to surrounding communities
  • Provides continuing education of the trauma team members
  • Operates an organized teaching and research effort to help direct new innovations in trauma care and to lead evidence-based care standards
  • Program for substance abuse screening and patient intervention

Level II

A Level II Trauma Center provides definitive care for all injured patients except for some complex, specialized injuries.

Elements of Level II Trauma Centers include:

  • 24-hour in-house coverage by trauma general surgeons and the prompt availability of care in specialties including orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care
  • Provides trauma prevention and continuing education programs for staff
  • Provides leadership in prevention, public education to surrounding communities
  • Program for substance abuse screening and patient intervention

Level III

A Level III Trauma Center has demonstrated an ability to provide prompt assessment, resuscitation, emergency operations, intensive care and stabilization of injured patients.

Elements of Level III Trauma Centers include:

  • 24-hour immediate coverage by emergency medicine physicians and the prompt availability of general surgeons within 30 minutes of notification.
  • Offers continued education of the nursing and allied health personnel or the trauma team
  • Coordinates prevention efforts and must have an active outreach program for its referring communities

Level IV

A Level IV Trauma Center has demonstrated an ability to provide advanced trauma life support (ATLS) prior to transfer of patients to a higher level trauma center. It provides evaluation, stabilization and diagnostic capabilities for injured patients.

Elements of Level IV Trauma Centers include:

  • Basic emergency department facilities to implement ATLS protocols and 24-hour laboratory coverage.
  • Available trauma nurse(s) and physicians available upon patient arrival
  • Develops transfer agreements for patients requiring more comprehensive care at a Level I or Level II Trauma Center
  • Incorporates a comprehensive quality assessment program
  • Participates in prevention efforts and must have an active outreach program for its referring communities

Where are Medical City Healthcare Trauma Centers Located?

Medical City Healthcare has 8 trauma centers located throughout the DFW area and 2 hospitals currently in pursuit of designation:

What Do I Do if I Need Emergency Care?

  • Call 911 for potentially life-threatening situations
  • Head to the ER for more serious injuries and illnesses that are not life-threatening but require the specially skilled people and equipment found only in emergency rooms
  • Seek urgent care treatment in the evenings and on weekends for minor injuries and illness
  • Use Medical City Virtual Care from any mobile device for a wide variety of non-emergency medical conditions
  • When in doubt, call 911 or go to the nearest ER

 Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you

Often, it can be difficult to know when to go to the ER, especially when children are involved. Here are some helpful links:

When to Take Your Child to the ER

When to Go to the ER

4 Things to Know Before You Go to the ER

In an Accident, Illness or Injury, Make the Right Care Choice

When to call 911 Instead of Driving to the ER

Learn More About Trauma and Trauma Centers

How to Survive and What to Do in an Emergency Trauma Situation

Trauma Centers: Things You Need But Didn’t Know You Needed

How an Innovative Trauma Team is Saving Lives in the Real World

17 Years Later, Teenage Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor Reunites with ER Team