A nation divided over health care? Not so fast

October 03, 2007

CHICAGO (October 3, 2007) - Americans may be sharply divided in their views on many aspects of health care in the United States, but they are in strong agreement when it comes to one of the most important but overlooked elements -- a nationwide trauma system. According to results of the American College of Surgeons' (ACS) new "On the Table" voter survey, 75 percent of voters support the establishment of a nationwide trauma system - including strong majorities across all political parties (86 percent of Democrats; 73 percent of Independents; and 63 percent of Republicans).

"It's clear that Americans understand the benefits of a well-coordinated trauma system. If a patient is seriously injured, they are 25 percent more likely to survive if they are treated at a verified trauma center," said Thomas R. Russell, MD, FACS, executive director of American College of Surgeons and adjunct professor, Department of Surgery at Northwestern University Medical School. "ACS has a proven model recommended by the Institute of Medicine that we know is effective at delivering the best results. The next step is for Congress to help make this happen in all states, not just a few."

According to the survey, almost half of voters (46 percent) believe their own states are prepared for an emergency situation, but half (50 percent) do not believe the nation's trauma centers are prepared to handle large-scale medical emergencies. ACS is currently working in cooperation with other trauma experts to develop a more comprehensive set of criteria and evaluation to assess the nation's trauma system preparedness.

"The nation's trauma system infrastructure is a patchwork quilt -- it is underfunded, highly fragmented and ill-prepared to handle manmade or natural disasters," Dr. Russell said, adding that "we need a comprehensive effort to shore up America's trauma care resources and fix problems that can threaten the health and lives of people in the midst of a crisis."

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for individuals ages one to 44. Data from the National Safety Council estimates that in 2004 alone, unintentional injuries cost the nation $574.8 billion, with $298.4 billion in wage and productivity losses and $98.9 billion in medical expenses. Trauma includes unintentional injuries such as falls and car accidents, intentional or self-inflicted injuries, as well as mass casualty trauma caused by a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Additional Key Survey Findings

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About the On the Table Survey

Commissioned by the American College of Surgeons, the nationwide telephone survey of 1,004 registered voters was conducted by KRC Research from Aug. 27 - Sept. 4, 2007, to gauge public opinions on U.S. health care and trauma center issues. The survey's weighted margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.1% at the 95% confidence level.

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 to improve the care of the surgical patient. 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 71,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit www.facs.org.

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