Statewide trauma system kudos

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 32 views 

We talk a lot about how Arkansas’s Payment Improvement Initiative and the Private Option have advanced and are stabilizing our health-care infrastructure. However, it was just six years ago that Arkansas stood out for another reason – the wrong reason.

We were one of only a few states without a statewide trauma system. We’ve changed that, and the results have been amazing and continue to improve. Once again, Arkansas has bounded from the back of the pack to become an innovator blazing new trails for other states to follow.

The holiday season is our busiest travel time, which also means a higher number of accidents will occur on the road. Our trauma system now gives our health-care providers the coordination they need to send injured people to the right hospital to receive the right care faster than ever before.

There are 69 designated hospitals within our trauma system, and Emergency Medical Services coordinate with all of them through a centralized call center in Little Rock. This so-called “dashboard,” known as TraumaComm, has handled more than 10,000 calls in 2014 alone. While getting a trauma patient accepted to the right hospital once took multiple hours, the average acceptance time in Arkansas is currently less than seven-and-a-half minutes.

Through the “dashboard,” TraumaComm can quickly identify which specialists and surgeons are on duty at which hospitals in each part of the State. They can directly contact ambulances to advise them of the nearest facility that meets the patient’s urgent needs. With serious injuries, minutes saved make a difference not just between life and death, but often between full recovery and permanent disability.

One area of traumatic injury that has long been problematic for Arkansas is when a patient suffers significant hand trauma. Many people who need reattachment or other complex procedures have had to be transported out of state to receive such complicated surgical care.

That changed this year. Due to the strong, connected hospital network our trauma system has created, TraumaComm has initiated America’s first telemedicine program for serious hand injuries. This program helps Arkansas doctors and emergency responders better identify and triage hand trauma, resulting in a rapid increase in successful in-state treatments. Of the 350 hand traumas responded to in 2014, only two percent, seven cases, had to go out-of-state for surgery. That’s a decrease of 56 percent from just one year ago.

Oftentimes, good government means building strong infrastructure, whether it’s building highways, power grids or water systems. Such infrastructure comes at a cost, and in the case of the trauma system, it took the willingness of our General Assembly raising the state’s tobacco tax to make this a reality. But the results have been something that no local, county or regional medical system could have done on its own. We have saved lives, sped recoveries and reduced costs.

While we wish everyone only the safest travels this holiday season, we know that we have that infrastructure in place to help provide the best care possible whenever the need arises.