Trauma 101: 6 Facts Everyone Should Know

There is no doubt that trauma is scary. This is especially true as trauma statistics continue to be staggering. With nearly 41 million hospital visits every year, trauma is an increasingly important health topic.

Of course trauma is certainly not something that anyone plans or expects to experience, so it’s essential to know basic information. To walk you through the fundamentals of trauma, GMC’s Trauma Program Manager, Gina Solomon, RN, provides answers to some of the most common trauma questions.

What is trauma?

Trauma is an injury to the body including those that are self-inflicted, intentional or unintentional. It can impact a single body system or multiple systems. Traumatic injuries occur suddenly and are sometimes severe. These injuries have a variety of causes, including blunt impact or penetration.

What are the top causes of trauma?

It seems like every year the number of traffic accidents only continues to rise. In fact, 2016 was named one of the deadliest years for American drivers in a decade. With staggering statistics estimating that 20-50 million people are injured or disabled in traffic accidents each year, this is a top cause of traumatic injuries.

Now, you’ve likely heard about the risks that come with texting and driving, right? Well what about driving while you’re tired, talking to passengers, using navigation or even eating and drinking; any of these things can cause you to be distracted while driving.
And with over 387,000 people injured as a result of distracted driving alone, this is a key concern.

Another top cause of traumatic injuries is falls among Americans aged 65 and older. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 25% of this age group falls each year. In particular, falls within the home can be especially traumatic causing a range of severe and damaging injuries.

Is trauma really that common in Georgia?

Surprisingly, traumatic injuries in Georgia account for one million emergency department visits, 75,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths annually. This is higher than the national average.

What is a trauma center?

A trauma center is a hospital that has the necessary personnel and equipment to effectively care for critically injured patients 24 hours a day. This includes specialized resources such as trauma surgeons, CAT scan machines and designated operating rooms, all of which are readily available.

Are there different levels of trauma centers?

A trauma center is designated a specific level (I, II, III or IV) depending on the available resources to care for patients (specialty physicians, hospital staff and equipment) as well as its ability to participate in trauma research, health care professional education and injury prevention.

For example, a Level I trauma center is usually a large teaching hospital that can care for all types of injuries as well as provide support to community hospitals, perform trauma research and provide medical education.

A Level II facility has all the same resources as a Level I trauma center, it is just not involved in trauma research and does not provide a surgical residency program. Finally, Level III and IV centers stabilize patients and transport them to a higher level of care if necessary.

Did you know that GMC is a Level II Trauma Center?

As one of only 9 trauma centers in the state of Georgia and the only Level II trauma center in Gwinnett County, GMC-Lawrenceville is prepared to evaluate, diagnose, stabilize and mange patients who have suffered a traumatic injury. To provide customized care for trauma patients, GMC has a designated trauma surgeon available at all times. GMC also has trauma nurse specialists, orthopedic, neurosurgery and complex facial trauma specialists readily available.

Furthermore, GMC offers access to radiologic services, state-of-the-art resuscitation rooms, a designated trauma operating room and a helicopter landing pad. Not to mention the capabilities of our open heart program and other extensive services all of which support the needs of trauma patients.

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