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2016-2 Trauma Center-Based Injury Prevention Initiatives

Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 1 and 44. (1) Each year, millions of Americans are injured and survive. Many are left with life-changing mental, physical and financial challenges. There are over 40 million Emergency Department visits and over 2 million hospital admissions due to injury. (2) Injuries account for approximately $671 billion in medical and work-loss costs. (3) This substantial cost drastically underscores the importance of trauma prevention programs as a cost-effective measure to reduce injury.  


The care of the traumatically injured patient is clearly recognized as a public health priority with the explicit goal of reducing injury-related disability and death.  Yet despite regularly documented medical and scientific evidence demonstrating injuries are largely preventable, the U.S. continues to see a growing number of injured patients in our emergency medical facilities. (4) Fundamentally, access to health services, such as systems created for injury-related prevention and care, ranging from pre-hospital and acute care to rehabilitation, are among the most important strategies to reduce the consequences of injuries. (5)


Paralleled by state and local polices, in-hospital based trauma prevention strategies and programs have a long history of success.  No longer are trauma centers designed to solely care for critically injured patients; they are now tasked with decreasing injury before it occurs.  Injury prevention became a requirement for Trauma Centers in the American College of Surgeons’ Resources for Optimal Care of the Injured Patient in 2007, and was further strengthened in 2015. This document serves as baseline standards for most trauma centers in the United States.  It states that all verified trauma centers must have an organized and effective approach to injury prevention and must prioritize those efforts based on local trauma registry and epidemiologic data. Consequently Trauma Centers play an important role in providing injury prevention in our communities (4).


Furthermore, to accomplish these goals requires a qualified, knowledgeable individual dedicated to injury prevention.  The ACS states that each Trauma Center must have someone in a leadership position who has injury prevention as part of his or her job description. (4).  


The ATS believes Trauma Centers should

  • Implement prevention programs that address major causes of injury in their community.
  • Prioritize injury prevention efforts based on trauma registry data and other local data sources.
  • Support the exchange of information between patient care and injury prevention to identify trends and provide guidance for patient and community education.
  • Evaluate injury prevention programs to measure their impact and publish these findings to further the field of knowledge.
  • Partner with organizations in the community where common injury prevention efforts are aligned.
  • Employ a Trauma Prevention Coordinator in a leadership position with-in the Trauma Program who, at a minimum, has a bachelor degree in injury prevention, public health or other related health field. 
  • Avoid combining the Injury Prevention Coordinator role in the Program Manager position especially in higher level centers with high volume.
  • Support the Injury Prevention position by providing time, access to data, education and resources to plan, implement and evaluate injury prevention programs.
  • Use the Core Competencies for Injury and Violence Prevention developed by the SAVIR§-Safe States Alliance Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development (5) to maintain the Coordinator’s knowledge and skills.
  • Consider the following critical skills needed by an Injury Prevention Coordinator: 
    • Strong inter-personal skills and the capability to network with various partners across the hospital and in the community
    • Ability to obtain and analyze hospital data and data from other sources
    • Proficiency at creating effective interventions and conducting evaluations to produce evidence based programs
    • Impeccable communication skills including strong writing and presentation skills 
    • Expertise in working with the press and performing media interviews.


1. National Vital Statistics System, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC. 10 leading causes of death by age group, United States – 2013. 
2. CDC Emergency Department Visits Fast Facts. 
3. Florence C, Haegerich T, Simon T, et al. Estimated lifetime medical and work-loss costs of emergency department–treated nonfatal injuries—United States, 2013. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2015;64:1078–82.
4. Sleet D.A., Dahlberg L.L., Basavaraju S.V., Mercy J.A., McGuire L.C., Greenspan A. (2011). Injury prevention, violence prevention, and trauma care: building the scientific base. MMWR Surveill Summ. 60(suppl),78–85. 
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  (2011). Injury Prevention, Violence Prevention, and Trauma Care: Building the Scientific Base. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports.  Retrieved from
6. Committee on Trauma American College of Surgeons . Resources for Optimal Care of the Injured Patient 2014. American College of Surgeons; Chicago, IL: 2014
7. Core competencies for injury and violence prevention 


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