In May of 2016, Ozark Health Medical Center in Clinton, AR., made the decision to no longer participate in the Arkansas Trauma System and let their certification expire. According to Hospital Administrator, David Deaton, the decision was made because of a lack of doctors available on site qualified to give the necessary treatment in case of a traumatic emergency. “The trouble was getting the doctors to get the necessary training needed to satisfy the requirements of Arkansas Trauma System. It was not the quality of the physican in question it was the ability of the physican to get the continued education needed. Our first obligation is to our community and this does not mean that a patient cannot come here. If a patient comes to our facility, we will treat them to the best of our ability and if we find that more services are needed that we are unable to provide, we will make the necessary arrangements to get them to the nearest facility that can handle the situation. I didn’t realize this was a problem until the other day and will work with the EMS and Little Rock to get things worked out and revisit the System,” said Deaton.
The Arkansas Legislature passed the Trauma System Act (Act 393) during the 2009 legislative session. The purpose of the System is to ensure that patients with traumatic injuries are transported to the most appropriate hospital(s) to treat their specific injuries (definitive care) in the shortest time possible. National data clearly shows that if this occurs, patient outcomes are dramatically improved.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, there are different levels of trauma that must be taken into consideration for the wellbeing of the patient. If the trauma is within the moderate to major levels, the EMT is required by Arkansas Trauma Triage Protocol to contact ATCC (Arkansas Trauma Communication Center) to locate the best facility able to handle the situation.
It is very important to understand there are two reasons EMTs have to call the ATCC for major and moderate trauma. First, the ATCC can assist in transporting the patients to the most appropriate hospital in the shortest time possible. Even if an ambulance is in an area close to a major trauma center and would normally take the patient there, the ATCC is in a position to tell the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Paramedic if that facility is currently overwhelmed in a particular specialty area or other information that would require transport to a different hospital. Second, it is critically important in System development that ADH have good data regarding EMS transports. The ATCC is well-positioned to give ADH this data, but must receive the calls in order to have the data for future analysis. The importance of the data aspect cannot be overstated. ATCC is there to provide assistance to EMS. Even in minor cases, should the EMT have a question and believes that ATCC can help, they can feel free to call.
In the case of a traumatic situation, if the patient is covered with an air lift program, the transport time can be greatly improved depending upon the location of the nearest facility able to handle the traumatic injury.
According to Fairfield Bay EMS Captain, Andrea Notz, “ our first responsibility is to the patient and following the Arkansas Trauma System Protocol.”
As of the publication of this article, Ozark Health has decided to seek re-instatment of their certification. See the article from Ozark Health in this issue.