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National trauma treatment systems would save lives

According to a recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, as many as 20 percent of deaths resulting from traumatic injuries like the kind suffered by victims of gunshots and car accidents are preventable.

Recent tragedies involving mass shootings and attacks around the nation and the world cause many residents to question their own safety. What could boost the survival rate in the event of mass casualties?

According to experts, providing victims with fast access to top-notch trauma treatment in more areas is paramount, as many parts of the country are located far from Level 1 trauma centers. The chairman of NAS, a physician with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, stated, "The meter is running on these preventable deaths."

For those in the United States under the age of 46, trauma is the primary cause of death. Almost 148,000 Americans died from traumatic injuries in 2014, at an estimated cost of $670 billion, which factors in both the cost of medical care as well as lost productivity.

Now NAS is urging the president to establish a national trauma system utilizing the expertise of the military on the battlefield, as the skills and experience can be used domestically to save lives. The goal should ultimately be to have no preventable deaths from traumatic injuries and to minimize the resulting disabilities of those who survive.

Even though there is no single organization overseeing trauma care in the United States at this time, NAS officials encourage state and municipal efforts to work to improve the present systems in place.

Considering that approximately 50 percent of all trauma deaths occur on the scene and on the way to the hospital, better trauma treatments can be implemented while en route to the trauma center.

A full third of critically injured trauma patients in some parts of the country don't routinely get transferred to Level I or II trauma centers. When hospitals are ill-equipped to treat severe trauma and patients must be transferred, they have a death rate that is almost 25 percent higher than victims who are immediately taken to trauma centers, the study showed.

All this care is expensive, of course, which is a reason why the survivors of those killed may have to file suit for wrongful death in order to recover damages for medical and end of life care.

Source: AP News Archive, "Up to 1 in 5 trauma deaths could be prevented, study says," Lauran Neergaard, accessed July 22, 2016

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