State health officials say a system for treating victims of traumatic injury would save the lives of between 200 and 600 people each year.
A $200,000 grant from Gov. Mike Beebe's Emergency Fund in 2008 helped the development of the software that provides hospitals with accurate and up-to-date information on hospitals in Arkansas. This system is called a "dashboard."
Members of a panel who were appointed by Beebe will answer questions this week from members of the public and explain why the state needs a trauma system. The panel's Council Chairman Dr. James Graham, is the chief of the emergency medicine division at Arkansas Children's Hospital.
The Legislature is expected to consider a measure on a statewide trauma system during the session that is to begin this month. Officials estimate such a system would cost as much as $35 million annually.
The meetings to be held for the public are meant to provide a forum to discuss efforts to get a trauma system to better coordinate care by hospitals, paramedics and other emergency responders statewide, according to Arkansas Children's Hospital. The hospital said that Arkansas is among only a few states with no hospitals designated as trauma centers by the American College of Surgeons.
A trauma can be any sudden injury resulting from an external force, such as a car accident, electrocution or a gunshot wound. Trauma is the leading cause of death for Arkansans between the ages of 1 and 44, according to the Arkansas Health Department.
The dashboard developed in 2008 is a link between 83 participating acute care hospitals in the state. The database can guide emergency personnel to a compatible hospital that suits the needs of a severely injured person. This database is the first component of a trauma system for the state.
According to Beebe, the dashboard is a primary component for the trauma system. The Fulton County Hospital implemented the system Nov. 10, 2008. According to the hospital's Chief Operation Officer, Tammy Friel, FCH is now able to transfer critical patients to larger hospitals faster and more efficiently.
The meetings on the trauma system began Jan. 12 in Pine Bluff and will continue through Jan. 16. The last meeting will be held in Jonesboro at St. Bernard's Auditorium Jan. 16 at 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend.