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FOR RELEASE: May 19 , 2005
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Plans Move Forward to Improve Oklahoma’s Trauma System
May is National Trauma Awareness Month

Trauma can happen to anyone at anytime. It is the leading cause of death for Oklahomans aged 1 to 44 years, and is the fifth leading cause of death overall in Oklahoma. It costs the state more years of productive life than all other disease combined, according to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

Trauma is an injury caused by an external force or violence and may range from minor to severe, from obvious to invisible. Trauma is also the nation’s most expensive disease process, costing an estimated $180 billion/year annually. Oklahoma statistics reflect the national problem. In 2003 and 2004, a total of 8,501 major trauma patients were treated in Oklahoma hospitals and 983 of these patients died. Motor vehicle crashes injured 3,400 Oklahomans, 40 percent of the total number of major trauma patients.

“Due to passage of the Oklahoma Trauma Systems Improvement and Development Act in 2004, we are pleased to announce that we are in the developmental stages of a comprehensive and effective trauma system,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher. “It will take time to fully implement; however, once all the elements are in place, we will have one of nation’s premier trauma systems.”

As a result of that legislation, the following progress has been made in Oklahoma to improve and promote trauma systems development into an organized system of care:

  • Formation of the Oklahoma Trauma Systems Improvement and Development Advisory Council, which is tasked with review of trauma system functions and development of recommendations to improve trauma care provided in the system. The Council currently meets monthly.
  • Development of eight Regional Trauma Advisory Boards (RTABs) in Oklahoma; each of these RTABs are in the process of appointing membership representing hospital and ambulance providers within their region, electing officers, and preparing to develop regional trauma plans and to participate in regional quality improvement activities.
  • Establishment of identified performance indicators to assess system and patient care performance strengths and weakness within the regions and statewide.
  • Formation of a State Medical Audit Committee to review performance indicators for quality improvement regionally and statewide.

Public health officials project that a fully implemented trauma system will save one in five of the lives currently lost. The additional $17 million dollars expected to be generated from the tobacco tax funding for the trauma system will help offset medical losses due to those uninsured and underinsured Oklahomans that are not able to help themselves.

Last year the Oklahoma Trauma Care Assistance Revolving Fund dispersed $4 million dollars to offset uncompensated trauma care and an additional $21.5 million in expenses remained uncompensated due to a lack of funding.

For more information about the trauma system, contact the OSDH Trauma Division Director Patrice Greenawalt, MS, RN, at 405/271-4027.

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