Maintaining Good Health Even When You're Busy

The Role Of A Medical Director In Managing A Trauma Center

by Caitlin Obara

Managing a trauma center, especially a Level 1 trauma center, requires the coordination of several moving parts by the Medical Director. A well-run trauma center is achieved with a careful selection of staff and resources to render the best possible care from incident to discharge.

Initial Care

When applicable, there needs to be a protocol for EMS to notify your facility to activate the trauma team and give necessary information about the patient, their injuries, and an approximate arrival time. Trauma centers typically have a "trauma bay," which are dedicated beds used for trauma patients since they may require equipment that is not routine for emergency room patients. The goal is to have the trauma team by the bed of the incoming patient before they arrive. In this small window of time, the lead physician should give each person their assignments so there is no confusion and multiple staff members can work in a confined space without chaos. There will need to be a protocol regarding imaging tests and emergency surgery to minimize wait times for trauma patients. Part of the protocol will be how to address a situation when a patient is in the middle of imaging or surgery and a trauma patient needs those resources.

Continuity Of Care

If you are not a Level 1 trauma center, the transfer of patients from lower-level trauma centers to higher-level centers might be necessary for continuity of care. Depending on the severity of a patient's injuries and how far they are being transported, an air ambulance may be necessary. If this is not possible, you will need to arrange for the patient to be transported by ground to a location where it is safe for the air ambulance to land. Air ambulances typically have a flight nurse or doctor who can assist the patient during transport, however, this generally does not happen with ground transport through EMS. It may be necessary to have a doctor or nurse with advanced training to escort unstable patients who might go into cardiac arrest at any moment.

When managing a trauma center, the Medical Director is the keystone to addressing the complex needs of trauma care. The level of the trauma center will dictate the resources and staff available and how they must work together.

For more information about this and how these professionals can help your comapny, contact a medical director in your area.