Emergency physician contributes to new report aimed at reducing preventable deaths
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Dr. Douglas Kupas, a Geisinger emergency medicine physician and the system’s associate chief academic officer, served as one of 20 authors of a new report calling on the White House and the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services to build a national trauma care system to eliminate preventable deaths after injury.
Trauma, or injury, is the leading cause of death for Americans 45 and younger. According to the report, about 1,000 American service members died of potentially survivable injuries in the wars in the Middle East between 2001 and 2011, and 30,000 U.S. trauma deaths each year may be preventable.
Donald M. Berwick, M.D., MPP, from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, chaired the Committee on Military Trauma Care's Learning Health System and its Translation to the Civilian Sector, which authored the report published June 17 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The committee noted that the quality of care across civilian and military trauma systems varies greatly, depending on where someone is injured, and the disparity leads to preventable deaths.
“The military and civilian trauma care systems use different methods to study the effects of treatments, and often it takes time for best practices to cross back and forth,” said Dr. Kupas, who also serves as Commonwealth EMS Director for the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services for the Pennsylvania Department of Health. “Unfortunately in the civilian world, mass shootings with military-style wounds are increasingly common. We will be more prepared to prevent deaths if we can quickly learn best practices from the military experience during wartime, and if the military can maintain trauma care experience in the civilian setting during peacetime.”
According to the report:
- In some regions, a third of severely injured patients aren’t transferred to either Level I of Level II trauma center. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has triage guidelines for EMS in deciding what type of care a patient needs, but as of 2011, the latest data, only 16 states had at least partially implemented them, the panel found.
- Hospitals that can’t handle severe injuries have to transfer patients, and those patients are nearly 25 percent more likely to die than those taken immediately to a trauma center.
“We are hopeful that the results of this work lead to impactful changes in trauma care that improve outcomes for patients – whether it’s soldiers on the battlefield, or victims of injury in our own communities,” Dr. Kupas said.
This fall, Dr. Kupas will present the report recommendations at the National Association of State EMS Officials Fall Meeting and the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation conference.
The committee’s work was sponsored by the American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Surgeons, National Association of EMS Physicians, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, Trauma Center Association of America, and the U.S. departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Transportation.
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