What is a Level 1 trauma center?

Wellstar AMC hospital will close Nov. 1
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 2:16 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2022 at 2:20 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Georgia will soon have only four Level 1 trauma centers following Wellstar’s August 31 announcement it is closing Atlanta Medical Center.

According to the American Trauma Society, trauma centers are evaluated and verified by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), but does not provide designations. Those are left to each state. But the ACS does verify the facility has the resources available for trauma patients, and evaluates a facility’s preparedness, resources, policies, and quality improvement process.

ACS verification is valid for three years.

Level 1: comprehensive treatment to trauma patients from injury through rehabilitation.

  • 24-hour in-hospital access to general surgeons
  • Availability of anesthesia, emergency medicine, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, radiology, plastic surgery, and maxillofacial surgery
  • Referral center for community hospitals
  • Public health education including the prevention of traumatic injuries
  • Continuing education for all team members involved in trauma care
  • Quality assessment and improvement programs
  • Teaching and research in trauma management
  • Polysubstance abuse identification and intervention
  • Evaluates and treats a minimum number of trauma patients annually

Level 2: initiates trauma patients’ treatment

  • 24-hour access to general surgeons
  • Availability of anesthesiology, radiology, emergency medicine, neurosurgery, and orthopedic surgery
  • Sub-specialized care may be necessary to transfer to a Level I Trauma Center
  • Continuing education for all team members involved in trauma care
  • Quality assessment and improvement programs

Level 3: assessment, management, surgery and stabilization for trauma patients.

  • 24-hour access to emergency medicine physicians
  • Availability of general surgeons
  • Quality assessment and improvement programs
  • Agreements to transfer patients requiring a higher level of care
  • Backup care for outlying hospitals
  • Continuing education for all team members involved in trauma care
  • Outreach education program for prevention of traumatic injuries

Level 4: can provide advanced trauma life support to patients before transfer. 

  • Emergency department able to implement ATLS protocols
  • Nurses and physicians available when trauma patients arrive
  • Surgery and intensive care, when available
  • Agreements to transfer patients requiring a higher level of care
  • Quality assessment and improvement programs
  • Outreach education program for prevention of traumatic injuries

Level 5: evaluation, initial management, and preparation before transfer to a higher level of care.

  • Emergency department able to implement ATLS protocols
  • Nurses and physicians available when trauma patients arrive
  • After hours protocols if the facility closes
  • Surgery and intensive care, when available
  • Agreements to transfer patients requiring a higher level of care