Trauma centers all over the country use up to five levels to define serious and catastrophic injuries. Level one is for the most serious injuries, which require fast response times. Other trauma levels could transfer to a higher level after evaluation.
Trauma level one
U.S. hospitals determine serious and catastrophic injuries in different ways, but one is always the highest level. A level one trauma center is a specialist care facility for specific injuries. A level one trauma center focuses on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. Surgeons are available within 24 hours, and specialty surgeons work in the centers. There are quality assessment programs for injuries and intervention programs for substance disorders.
Trauma level two
Level one and level two trauma centers are similar in what they offer. Level two trauma centers have surgeons available 24/7 but not the research capabilities. A level two trauma center doesn’t require its director of the ICU to be a certified surgeon. There isn’t a continuous rotation of trauma surgery for senior residents.
Trauma level three
Level three trauma centers typically provide care for injuries within their capabilities. Stabilized patients from level one and level two move to level three facilities. Level three trauma centers provide educational programs for the staff and continuous surgical coverage. Surgeons aren’t on call 24/7 but can get to the hospital within 30 minutes. Level three trauma centers are farther from level one and level two facilities.
Trauma level four
Level four trauma centers are in more rural areas and provide advanced trauma life support before transferring patients to higher facilities. Medical providers are taught how to deal with acute trauma. Level four trauma centers evaluate, stabilize and diagnose injuries, and they have basic emergency departments with trauma nurses and physicians available. There are outreach programs for communities.
Trauma level five
Level five trauma centers have basic emergency department facilities. Level five trauma centers can evaluate, stabilize and diagnose injuries. There are nurses and medical staff on patient arrival and after-hour protocols. They may provide surgery during an emergency. The facility transfers severe injuries to lower-level trauma centers.
No matter the level of a person’s injury, a trauma center should be capable of evaluating and diagnosing serious and catastrophic injuries. Injuries in need of more treatment may require the patient to be transferred.