Injury is defined as an anatomic and physiologic disruption which results from the transfer of energy to human tissue. From a practical standpoint, injury in the Tampa Bay Community usually occurs as a result of automobile crashes and interpersonal violence.
The Level One Trauma Center at Tampa General Hospital is a comprehensive, integrated system designed to respond to the needs of injured people. The center is operated as a joint effort between the hospital and the University of South Florida College of Medicine. More than a quarter of a century of research has documented that trauma systems which encompass pre-hospital, in-hospital and rehabilitative functions produce optimum outcomes in injured patients. The Level One Trauma Center at Tampa General Hospital is the centerpiece of a regional response to injury which offers an excellent example of such a system in service to the community.
Tampa General Hospital's Trauma Center provides patient care, education, and research, which deals with unique problems of injured patients. The Trauma Center is committed to comprehensive cutting-edge care of any traumatic condition. The Level One designation is awarded by the Florida Department of Health following extensive evaluation of information regarding patient care practices, educational activities for health care professionals at multiple levels, and trauma related medical research. After review of a large packet of written information, a review team comprised of nationally recognized surgeons, physicians, and nurses from outside the state visits the center and conducts an on-site evaluation. Only when this entire process is satisfactorily completed is the Level One designation offered. The institution, once designated, is re-reviewed at five year intervals. The Tampa General Hospital Center successfully completed a review and was re-designated in 1999.
A trauma center is staffed with trained surgeons ready to respond to the needs of the injured patient 24 hours per day, seven days per week. In our center, a team of four surgeons, led by a fully trained faculty surgeon and assisted by student-trainees participating in education programs in medicine, nursing, and physician-assisting are continuously present. A designated area of the Emergency Department is equipped and staffed with professionals from nursing, respiratory care, chaplain's services, and security to receive injured patients. Comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening conditions, which result from injury, up to and including major surgery are performed in this area. A designated major operating room in the surgical suite is always available for care of the injured patient. Support services such as the Radiology Department, which houses a CT scanner and a vascular radiology facility for the injured patient, the Clinical Laboratory; and the Blood Bank are specifically staffed and equipped to respond to the needs of the injured patient.
The Trauma Center is committed to quality care and is likewise committed to documenting that the highest quality patient care processes are in place and working as designed. The patient care process is continually tested, reviewed, and upgraded on a monthly basis. Personnel are trained and re-trained using nationally available education tools such as the Advanced Trauma Life Support and Advanced Burn Life Support courses. These are supplemented by local educational efforts which include such cutting-edge educational instruments as the use of patient simulators and telemedicine.
Commitment to the development of new knowledge sets the Level One center apart from other centers offering trauma care. In our center, virtually every patient is offered the opportunity to participate in research protocols. Our current research focuses on improvement of trauma system function, problems of the elderly injured patient and the control of the metabolic responses to injury and shock, at the cellular and molecular levels. In each of these broad areas, our center is bringing together expertise in molecular biology, genetics, epidemiology, and outcomes assessment to ensure that current and future patients receive the best and most cost-effective trauma care available.