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What is a Trauma Center?

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Trauma centers are hospitals with resources immediately available to provide surgical services and care to patients with traumatic injuries. Accredited trauma centers must always be prepared to treat the most disabling and life-threatening injuries. They are not intended to replace traditional hospitals and emergency departments for minor injuries.

There are three levels of trauma centers in Pennsylvania:

Level I trauma centers require trauma research programs, a surgical residency program, and an annual volume of at least 650 major cases.

Level II trauma centers meet the same high level of care, but are not required to have the research and residency components. They must have at least 350 major trauma cases each year.

Level III trauma centers are small, community hospitals that do not require a minimum volume of trauma patients. Their focus is to stabilize severe trauma in preparation for transport to a higher level trauma center, as well as to care for patients with moderate trauma. They do not need to have neurosurgical services.

Level IV trauma centers, often smaller in size and located in a rural area, can provide initial care and stabilization of traumatic injuries while arranging transfer to a higher level of trauma care. 

The Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation is the organization responsible for accrediting trauma centers in Pennsylvania. The foundation has been reviewing and surveying applicant hospitals since May 1986. Hospitals treating adults can be designated Adult Level I-IV Trauma Centers. Hospitals treating children can be designated Pediatric Level I-II Trauma Centers.