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Trauma Facts & FAQs

Trauma facts

  • Lee Health's Trauma Center is the only trauma center between Sarasota and Miami. It is one of 33 trauma centers in Florida — 26 are state-verified and seven are provisional.
  • Nationally, trauma is the No. 1 killer for ages 1-45, with a secondary peak after the age of 65.
  • The "Golden Hour" is the first hour after a patient's injury. This is the most critical period that could be the difference between life or death.
  • More than 192,000 people lose their lives to trauma in the United States each year.
  • Lee Health's Trauma Center cares for approximately 2,400 traumatically injured patients each year.
  • National studies show that patient mortality and morbidity is reduced by 20-25 percent when a patient is treated for traumatic injuries and is cared for in a trauma system rather than a non-trauma system.
  • The average length of stay in a trauma center is less than six days.
  • Florida is divided into 22 trauma service areas, some of which have no active trauma center.
  • Motor vehicle crashes make up more than 50 percent of all trauma cases in Florida.
  • About 19.4 percent of patients who enter a standard emergency room are uninsured. About 15.1 percent of patients who enter a trauma center are uninsured.
  • There are more than 1 million residents in the Lee County Trauma Services District area.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a trauma center?

A trauma center is a specialized hospital that treats victims of physical trauma. Physical trauma is defined as blunt, penetrating or burn injury that requires immediate medical treatment to ensure survival. Most often, these types of injury are the result of falls, auto accidents, gunshots, stabbings and/or burns.

A trauma center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a trauma surgery team that is specially qualified to attend to traumatic injury. After the patient is stabilized, his/her care is the responsibility of the trauma center staff until the patient is released from the trauma center.

Why are trauma centers needed? Can't accident victims be treated in our local emergency rooms?

Emergency rooms are not established in such a way as to provide the same services within the same time frame as a licensed trauma center. They function under lesser requirements than trauma centers.

Trauma centers are required to have a staff of certified trauma surgeons on staff and present at all times. In addition to these surgeons, it is also required that a staff of specialists and sub-specialists be available on an "on-call" basis, responding within a specifically defined number of minutes.

All of these requirements are in place in order to provide highly specialized care within one hour of injury (the "golden hour").

What is the difference between a Level II Trauma Center and other levels of trauma care?

The State of Florida Department of Health licenses trauma centers at three levels. A trauma center can be a level I trauma center, a level II trauma center and/or a Pediatric trauma center.

Florida statute mandates that level I Trauma Centers must also be pediatric trauma centers.

Level I trauma centers require 15 specific physician specialists be on call and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The center must have either an in-house burn unit or a transfer agreement with a hospital that operates a burn unit. Level I trauma centers are required to provide extensive education and are generally located on the campuses of university teaching hospitals.

Thirteen of Florida's 22 trauma centers carry a level II designation. Level II centers are required to provide coverage from the same specialists and sub-specialists as level I centers but the time requirements and in-house staff requirements are different.

However, all designated physicians are required to respond on-call within much more stringent time frames than a non-trauma hospital emergency department. It should be noted that major differences between level I and level II centers are found in regard to pediatric specialists being required in level I centers and requirements of teaching hospital designation required of level I centers.

Pediatric trauma centers have the responsibility to meet the same criteria as adult trauma centers. However, they must have a pediatric emergency department, pediatric resuscitation equipment in all patient areas, and a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU). 

Pediatric trauma centers are required to have on staff trauma surgeons that are credentialed for pediatric care. Pediatric trauma staff must be trained in the complex problem of treating children, including infants, and have numerous hours of specialized pediatric care training. Florida has two pediatric-only trauma centers.