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Congressional Committee Examines National Trauma System and Report on Ways to Improve Care

Tuesday, July 12, 2016  
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House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Examines National Trauma System and Recent Report Highlighting Ways to Improve Care

Health Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Pitts (R-PA) today held a hearing examining ways to strengthen our national trauma system. The hearing reviewed a recent report and recommendations by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), as well as H.R. 4365, the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2016, authored by committee member Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC).

“This report cites nearly 30,000 preventable civilian deaths per year due to trauma – not overseas in a distant war-torn land – but here at home in the United States,” stated full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).

In talking about NASEM’s report, Dr. C. William Schwab, FACS, Professor of Surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center stated, “…as in all the history of medicine, as the war intensity decreases and periods of interwar peace emerge, there is little to no opportunities for the military workforce to maintain the trauma surgical, resuscitative and reconstruction skills necessary for the battlefield. … Thus, those astounding skills and abilities to save the most devastating wounds is quickly slipping away.”

Traumatic injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 46. In 2013 alone, these types of injuries represented an economic loss of $670 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity.

Ms. Jorie Klein, RN, BSN, Director of Trauma Program at the Parkland Health & Hospital System, echoed these statistics and stressed that “the vast majority of trauma injuries and deaths occur in the civilian population.”

“I want to ask everyone to imagine for a moment that a loved-one has been injured and is in excruciating pain but the responding EMS personnel trained to treat them are helpless to do anything. Under current law, this could become a reality,” stated Rep. Hudson. “Congressional action is needed immediately. That is why I authored the bipartisan Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act with my colleague, G.K. Butterfield, to clarify existing law so EMS personnel can continue to administer life-saving medications to patients.”

Speaking in support of Rep. Hudson’s bill, Dr. Brent Myers, President-Elect of the National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP), stated, “To ensure our ability to continue providing immediate and life-saving care, it is imperative that the Congress amend the Controlled Substances Act to preserve our ability to utilize standing orders as provided for in H.R. 4365. And, it is essential that the Congress enact this vital legislation now, before a regulation is promulgated that would endanger patients.”

For more information on today’s hearing, including a background memo, witness testimony, and archived webcast click here.

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