The nation's trauma care infrastructure must be strengthened to maintain maximum emergency preparedness, according to the Chicago-based American College of Surgeons.
"There is a gaping hole in the nation's organizational plan to deal with this problem," says J. Wayne Meredith, M.D., chair of the ACS committee on trauma and chairman of general surgery at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C
Ten years ago, Congress authorized the original Trauma Care Systems Planning and Development Act to encourage the development of trauma care networks. Although the legislators' initial recommendation for annual funding was $60 million, the total amount allocated has been just $25 million over the last decade, Meredith says.
ACS is asking Congress to reauthorize the act through a Senate bill (S 239) that would provide $12 million in 2004 to enhance each state's capability to develop and sustain trauma care systems. The bill also would amend and increase funding for Title XII of the Public Health Service Act, which provides a network to update training, share best practices and plan improvement strategies for treating trauma patients.