Injury and Violence in Los Angeles Impact on Access to Health Care Surgical Education

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The Los Angeles County (California) Trauma Hospital System was designed to ensure that all patients requiring specialized trauma care would be transported directly to a trauma center using established trauma triage criteria. The designation and implementation of all level 1, 2, and 3 (rural) trauma centers were completed between October 1983 and July 1985. However, by February 1, 1985, one level 2 trauma center withdrew, and nine other level 2 and 3 trauma centers followed suit over the next few months and years. The reasons for closure of these 10 trauma centers were almost exclusively related to economic factors. The major impact of trauma center closure on surgical educational programs at the Drew University of Medicine and Science and the Martin Luther King, Jr/Charles R. Drew Medical Center have been additive and cumulative. The high volume of patients with trauma has been cited, sometimes correctly and sometimes incorrectly, as the primary reason for a lack of access to health care for patients without trauma. We have developed a blueprint for survival that, when fully implemented, will improve access to health care for all residents in our catchment area and optimize surgical education. While the Los Angeles County Trauma Hospital System has had many difficulties during the last 9 years, the population it serves is greater than that in 42 states in the United States. The experiences gained in Los Angeles County may be beneficial to statewide systems in the United States and in countries of comparable size.

(Arch Surg. 1992;127:671-676)



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