March 30, 2007 - Trauma care took a giant step forward this week when the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the Trauma Care Systems Planning and Development Act (H.R. 727), which will increase the availability of trauma care across the U.S. and thus improve the survival rate for patients suffering from traumatic injuries. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) strongly supports this legislation and has worked with the bill's sponsors, Representatives Gene Green (D-TX) and Michael Burgess (R-TX), the American College of Surgeons and others to advocate for its enactment.
"The nation's emergency physicians will do everything in their power to get emergency patients acute trauma care within the first 'golden hour,' but given the nationwide distribution of resources, sometimes that is simply not possible," said Dr. Brian Keaton, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "The 2007 Trauma Care Act will help reduce the number of trauma patient deaths that could have been prevented had optimal acute care been available by promoting trauma care systems, improving trauma center designations and creating standardized triage protocols for severely injured patients."
The Trauma Care Systems Planning and Development Act, originally authorized in 1990 and funded from 1992 through 2005, received no funding in fiscal years 2006 and 2007. The new bill authorizes $12 million in funding to be distributed through grants to all 50 states in fiscal year 2008. Its stated goals are to promote better utilization of limited trauma resources and to fund emergency medicine residency programs. Currently, only one-fourth of the U.S. population lives in an area served by a trauma care system.
"This bill benefits trauma patients in significant ways, including extending trauma care to underserved rural communities," said Dr. Keaton. "The costs of unintentional injury in lives lost, as well as lifelong disability, are shocking. In addition, the monetary cost of trauma-related emergency department visits alone was $7.8 billion in 2003. Every trauma patient is an emergency patient, and we applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for taking this step to help us save more lives."
ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine with more than 25,000 members. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.