Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Trauma-care system draws interest, support

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A proposal to create a regional trauma-care system for Greater Cincinnati attracted extensive interest and support at a public meeting Tuesday evening.

        Paramedics, hospital emergency medicine staff and others packed a meeting room at the Gregory Centre, downtown, to hear how Oregon set up its statewide trauma system several years ago, how a similar system might be established in Ohio and how the Tri-State Trauma Coalition would set things up here.

        “This is an idea that is long overdue,” said Dr. Victor Garcia, director of trauma services at Children's Hospital Medical Center. “It is our belief that a trauma system would save lives.”

        Speakers Tuesday said it would take 18 months to two years to set up a regional trauma system here. Legislation to create a statewide system has passed the House and faces debate this year in the Senate.

        Traditionally, paramedics rush severe trauma victims (people suffering damage to multiple organs and limbs) to the nearest hospital, sometimes regardless of the hospital's ability to handle the case.

        A growing body of medical studies reveals that such patients often fare better by going straight to accredited trauma centers, even if the initial transport takes a while, said Dr. Donald Trunkey, chairman of surgery at the Oregon Health Sciences University.

        Since establishing its statewide trauma system in 1987, Oregon has reduced the risk of death from severe trauma injuries by about 35 percent and eliminated much of the difference in survival rates between rural and urban trauma victims, Dr. Trunkey said.

        State Rep. William Schuck (R-Columbus), sponsor of a bill to create a statewide trauma system for Ohio, said the proposed state law is designed to accommodate regional systems such as the one proposed for Greater Cincinnati.

        To establish the statewide system, the bill calls for more state spending (about $3 million a year in new spending) on paramedic training, equipment, vehicles and injury prevention programs.

        The money would come from increased fines for seat-belt and child-restraint violations and re-routing about 5 percent of the money collected from highway patrol tickets.


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