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Statewide Trauma System Cuts Preventable Deaths By Half

By John Commins  
   March 22, 2017

Mabry's team calculated the value of a life using a standard estimate of $100,000 per life-year, with an average lifetime expectancy of 81.5 years, for a lifetime value of $2.36 million per person saved.

The value of a life considers that person's lost earning potential and other costs to society, such as the financial impact on members of a family that may need social services after the death of a breadwinner. Based on that methodology, Mabry calls the savings "a conservative estimate," in part, because most trauma patients are relatively young.

The average age of trauma patients who die is 42. "Most of them have families," he says. "It is a bit of a guessing game, but the younger the patient the more valuable the life saved."

The statewide trauma system links every ambulance under one coordinated emergency medical services network. "The ambulances can describe the patient to the central dispatch area and, while the dispatch can't tell them where to go, they advise them where to go based on their knowledge of the patient and also where the resources are," Mabry says.

"Along with that, we have a statewide electronic, web-based dashboard and each hospital updates us on an hourly basis if it changes, about their capabilities and capacities," he says.

"At our hospital in Pine Bluff, if we have a major trauma and all of our surgeons are tied up, we will let them know. That way if something happens and a patient ordinarily would come to our center, the central dispatch would know to send us to another hospital."

Trauma Standards
Mabry says the hospitals determine if they want to apply to be a trauma center and the state health department conducts an inspection of a hospital to see if they meet certain standards.

"Those standards are generally based on the American College of Surgeons standards for trauma centers, although we did alter them a little bit for our states," Mabry says.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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