ACS: Sen. Reed Sets Sights on Overdue Trauma System Funding Legislation Following New Trauma Law to Improve Burn Care

Funding needed for state and rural trauma systems and to create new models for regionalized emergency care

Aug 29, 2014, 15:23 ET from American College of Surgeons

CHICAGO, Aug. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After authoring a new law to include burn injuries as part of trauma care, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), is working on legislation to provide long overdue financing to develop and revitalize the nation's state and rural trauma systems and to create innovative new models of regionalized emergency care.

Sen. Reed's Improving Trauma Care Act of 2014, signed into law by President Obama on August 12, 2014, more appropriately reflects the relationship between burns and other traumatic injuries and makes burn centers eligible for those programs.

"Excluding burn injuries from 'trauma' not only obscured the close interrelationship between trauma and burn care, but it also excluded burn centers from participating in federal trauma care and research programs," said William Cioffi, Jr., MD, FACS, J. Murray Beardsley Professor and chairman, Alpert Medical School of Brown University; Treasurer, American College of Surgeons Board of Regents; and president of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma. "Mass casualties from the Rhode Island nightclub fire in 2003 demonstrated why we need to strengthen the burn care infrastructure in this country and ensure that burn and trauma care are closely integrated. Now with Sen. Reed's Improving Trauma Care Act we will be able to create a more efficient and responsive emergency medical care system."

While this new trauma law is considered a breakthrough for the nation's trauma and burn community, two important grant programs, the Trauma Care Systems Planning Grants and the Regionalization of Emergency Care Systems Pilot Projects, have not received federal funding since 2005, threatening emergency care in communities across the country. The first program supports state and rural development of trauma systems and the second funds pilot projects to create innovative models of regionalized emergency care. It would also direct states to update their model trauma care plan.

"Trauma care is not only critical to providing timely access to lifesaving interventions, it is the cornerstone of our health care system – central to both our national security and disaster preparedness," said Sen. Reed. "Efforts to reauthorize funding for the Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act are gaining increased commitment from elected officials. We must get this bill signed into law before the programs lapse at the end of September to strengthen and improve trauma and emergency care in the U.S."  

The House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 4080, the Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act, which would restore funding to these two important programs. Sen. Reed is working to get its counterpart, S.2405, passed in the Senate.

"Sen. Reed's efforts are strongly supported by the American College of Surgeons, which creates national guidelines and provides verification for trauma centers throughout the United States," added Dr. Coiffi. "It is critical that we continue to build and refresh our trauma system and make sure that the patients, given their type of illness or injury, are always sent to appropriate, optimal facilities."

A trauma system is an organized, coordinated effort in a defined geographic area that delivers the full range of care to all injured patients. It provides resources, supporting equipment, and personnel along a continuum of care including pre-hospital, hospital, and rehabilitation services.

Trauma is the leading cause of death for children and adults under age 44, killing more Americans than AIDS and stroke combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Trauma accounts for 41 million emergency room visits and 2.3 million hospital admissions across the country each year, according to the National Trauma Institute. Survival among severely injured patients requires specialist care delivered promptly and in a coordinated manner. Care begins at the scene of injury, continues through the emergency department, and on into the hospital, operating room and intensive care unit.

About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery.  Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 79,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.  For more information, visit

SOURCE American College of Surgeons