Georgia's trauma drama

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It's the No. 1 cause of death among Americans ages 1 to 44. In Georgia, its occurrence is 20 times more likely than the national average.

It's trauma death -- from accidental falls, bullet wounds, severe burns or automobile crashes. And the state still hasn't come up with a way to make its statewide trauma care network even remotely adequate. That's one of the biggest issues -- some would say the biggest issue -- facing the Georgia General Assembly this term.

The facts are too grim to ignore: Of Georgia's 152 acute-care hospitals, only 15 have trauma centers, which are specialized facilities designed to handle severe injuries. That number is only about half of the number the state needs to properly deal with trauma emergencies. Of about 40,000 major trauma cases annually in the state, only about 10,000 are treated in designated trauma centers.

So why don't more hospitals field trauma centers? Because, financially, they're a losing proposition. Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital, for example, bled $42 million a year as it provided uncompensated trauma care. Elsewhere in the state the monetary figures may be different, but the situation is the same: Since most emergency-room traffic consists of the uninsured and the indigent, hospitals lose millions of dollars annually through its trauma centers. That has led some hospitals to consider dropping its trauma center designations, which would make the state's dire health care situation even worse.

The latest price tag to stabilize Georgia's trauma network has been set at $85 million. So far, the most that the system has managed to get from the state is a $58 million lump sum that has yet to be split among the state's trauma centers. Meanwhile, lawmakers have to decide -- quickly and fairly -- how the centers will get much-needed funding on a reliable, long-term basis.

Mark Feb. 23 on your calendar. It's Trauma Capitol Day, when the most vocal advocates of proper trauma care in Georgia will make themselves heard. For more information or to RSVP, e-mail questions@georgiaitsabouttime.com, or call (770) 522-9460.

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patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 01/14/09 - 05:36 am
0
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Any time auto wrecks are

Any time auto wrecks are included in any statistic, it becomes the #1 cause of death. Until a drivers license requirement becomes dependent on qualification and personal responsibility, and until the driving laws are enforced, we'll never have enough trauma centers in the right places.

pofwe
5
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pofwe 01/14/09 - 05:47 am
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10-4 'tricia, I say save the

10-4 'tricia, I say save the $85 million and produce a public service announcement reminding people to "Be Careful."

I4PUTT
5
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I4PUTT 01/14/09 - 08:16 am
0
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Just say no worked realy well

Just say no worked realy well on drugs. Instead of spending all that money on losing trauma centers, why not invest in more helicopters and transport GA victims to Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia SC and let them worry about it.

curly123053
5343
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curly123053 01/14/09 - 08:54 am
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Well spoken

Well spoken Patricia.....tougher seatbelt laws and increased usage would help too.....l4PUTT as far as airlifting Ga pts to Columbia that would not be appropiate. I spent 22 yrs as an EMT and the national standards recommend transporting any critical trauma pts to the nearest appropiate Trauma Center unless that center is refusing pts for some unforeseen reason.

CH
0
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CH 01/14/09 - 10:43 am
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Tougher seatbelt laws,

Tougher seatbelt laws, raising the age to obtain a drivers license to 18 or even 21, mandatory sentences for dui, and mandatory drivers ED classes before issuing licenses would drop the accident rate in this country dramatically. Guess what will freeze over before any of this takes place.

HARLEY HOG
0
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HARLEY HOG 01/14/09 - 11:15 am
0
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Stop Driving while on Cell

Stop Driving while on Cell Phone or Reading books or operating computers. It's worse than drinking and driving.

SandyK2005
1
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SandyK2005 01/14/09 - 01:25 pm
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Most of the time these

Most of the time these injuries are preventable, too. Takes only one incident to "get religion", but too often it takes a serious injury (e.g., car accident) before people reform -- and sometimes it's too late, they're dead. You know careless drivers from how they drive; as well careless co-workers by how they shun using safety equipment, because they haven't experienced an accident, yet. In a lot of ways those lawsuits the AC and others condemn, actually helped make workplaces safer, as workers aren't even given the option to wear safety equipment anymore -- costs too much if they get injured. Why to never ever support tort reform, it works wonders in other ways!

Riverman1
93345
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Riverman1 01/14/09 - 03:56 pm
0
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The designation "trauma

The designation "trauma center" is a bureaucratic term that has little to do with the actual care a hospital can provide to emergency trauma patients. The patients are still going to be treated with expert care no matter the designation. The editorial is right in that trauma centers lose money because many of these patients are or end up being indigents. Trauma centers are inundated with patients that are flown past perfectly good hospitals that are not designated trauma centers. Aiken Regional voluntarily dropped their trauma care designation and I don't believe their level of care has changed one bit. Drop the term "trauma center" in Georgia and trauma care may actually improve, plus the financial burden would be spread more evenly among all the hospitals.

lifelongresidient
0
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lifelongresidient 01/14/09 - 04:39 pm
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how much of the millions are

how much of the millions are spent treating illegal aliens??? why not limit trama care, or for that matter any hospital medical care to citizens only???? although it my not be the answer it will certainly help decrease the amount lost.

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