Q: What is meant by the Time Critical Diagnosis System?

A: The state of Missouri enacted laws creating coordinated statewide emergency medical services for the time-critical conditions of trauma, stroke or severe heart attacks. These conditions require quick assessment, diagnosis and treatment to reduce the risk for preventable complications and death.

The laws established guidelines for promptly transporting pediatric trauma patients according to severity to a pediatric trauma center where resources exist to provide the necessary care. St. Louis Children’s Hospital is the only pediatric hospital in Missouri and Illinois nationally recognized by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) as a Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center. This means the hospital provides the highest classification of trauma care.

Q: What is meant by “trauma,” and why was the law created?

A: In medicine trauma refers to severe injury to the body. Examples include falls, motor vehicle crashes,  abuse, burns  and ATV accidents.

The Time Critical Diagnosis System was created to addresses patient outcomes that were worse than outcomes nationally. The system also addresses gaps in access to trauma centers, particularly in rural areas.

Q: What does this mean for patients?

A:  Trauma is the leading cause of death and disability in children over the age of one year. Each year, 22,000 children die before reaching definitive trauma care. A significant number of the survivors suffer permanent neurological damage. Evidence-based research has shown that children who have suffered trauma have better outcomes when treated at a Pediatric Level I Trauma Center. Therefore it’s important to choose a hospital that offers comprehensive trauma, burn, and neurosurgical services specific to children. 

That’s why these patients are transported every day, 24/7, to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, bypassing adult-oriented hospitals on the way, because children are not little adults

St. Louis Children’s Hospital is one of only  three Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Centers in the state. The hospital treats about 1,700 pediatric trauma patients annually, and outcomes for pediatric patients with traumatic brain injury are some of the best in the United States

Q: What’s different about an ACS Level I Pediatric Trauma Center?

A: Some requirements and attributes of an ACS-verified pediatric trauma program that are not required at other facilities include:

  • The highest level of staffing, skills and facilities to provide pediatric surgical care to injured patients.
  • Pediatric specialists in neurosurgery, radiology, anesthesia, orthopedics, emergency medicine and critical care medicine who have all completed 16 hours of continuing medical education beyond the requirements of their own practice and medical education. 
  • A dedicated trauma social worker 
  • Nurses who care for injured patients must be credentialed in trauma care. 
  • Performance improvement efforts to ensure that each patient experience leads to the best possible outcome by providing optimal care from the time of injury to rehab. 

For more information about Level I Trauma Care, contact St. Louis Children’s Hospital Trauma Services at 314.454.5437. Additional information can also be found at the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.