CPMC is a designated Level III Trauma Center.
A trauma can loosely be defined as an injury including everything from sprains to amputations. However, under state trauma rules, only patients who are more seriously injured or with a mechanism that might cause such injuries fall under the trauma regulations.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment oversees the state’s trauma program and is the governing agency that designates healthcare facilities that meet specified criteria in terms of resources and capabilities at a certain level.
A facility with a Level I designation provides the highest level of care for patients with complex injuries. Emergency physicians, nurses, and surgeons are immediately available to the trauma patient. Level I Trauma Centers are also responsible for research, professional and community education, prevention, consultative community outreach services and programs statewide.
A Level II facility provides definitive care for complex and severe trauma patients. Emergency physicians and nurses are in-house and immediately available to the trauma patient to direct patient care and initiate resuscitation and stabilization. A surgeon is available upon patient arrival in the ER and a broad range of specialists, comprehensive diagnostic capabilities, and support equipment are available.
A Level III facility provides comprehensive medical and surgical inpatient services to patients who can be maintained in a stable or improving condition without specialized care. Emergency physicians and nurses are immediately available and surgeons within 20 minutes to access, stabilize, or resuscitate. Patients at a Level III facility can be assured that physicians who are board certified in emergency medicine, family practice, internal medicine or surgery are present in the ER 24 hours a day and whose primary practice is in emergency medicine. They are also certified in Advanced Trauma Life Support. Registered nurses are in-house 24 hours a day, with some who have specialized education in trauma. An operating room and radiological services are available 24/hours a day. Respiratory therapy services are available in-house and clinical lab services and rehabilitation services need to meet specified criteria. Additionally, a Level III facility must maintain specified equipment for the resuscitation of patients of all ages.
Level IV and Level V facilities have physicians who are available upon patient arrival in the ER. They provide initial evaluation, stabilization, diagnostic capabilities and transfer to a higher level of care. They may provide surgical and critical care services as defined in the service’s scope of trauma care services. In the case of Level V, the facility must have an after-hours trauma response protocol, if not open 24 hours daily. Not all hospitals have a designated trauma level.
Colorado Plains Medical Center is only one of two Level III Trauma Centers in Northeast Colorado and one of sixteen statewide. Only thirteen other facilities in Colorado have a designation of Level I or Level II.
CPMC received its first Level III Trauma certification in 1991. Every three years it must go through a renewal process and meet rigorous criteria and standards to maintain the designation. The state trauma review team performs chart checks as part of the review process to ensure that patients are treated appropriately in the ER. Written policies and procedures for trauma and critical care patients are also scrutinized and checked for adherence. Having adequate training and expertise working with emergent patients are also integral to the trauma designation. The certification also requires that community outreach and education services on injury prevention are performed throughout the year on an on-going basis.