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SRMC overhauls trauma code

A new process for responding to trauma patients in the emergency room, called Code Trauma, will start May 21 at Southeastern Health’s Southeastern Regional Medical Center. This new approach for organizing how different departments activate and serve patients arriving with severe injuries is designed to create a more effective response system and improve patient outcomes.

“We want the community to know we are making great efforts to ensure that trauma patients are cared for as quickly and effectively as possible,” said SRMC Emergency Services Coordinator Keenya Locklear, who is one of the leaders of the new initiative. “Each department involved has goals regarding the speed of delivery for their services.”

The new system was designed by a committee which included nurses, providers, and other interdisciplinary team members from within and without the hospital, including the emergency department, respiratory therapy, information technology, patient access, medical imaging, blood bank, laboratory, Medcare Ambulance Service, Robeson County EMS, Lumberton Rescue, Red Springs Rescue and Pembroke Rescue.

Experts from Duke University Hospital’s Level 1 Trauma Center Regional Advisory Committee, or RAC, have also been heavily involved in the planning of this new process and have helped with providing additional trauma classes for nurses and providers.

“We have a great partnership with Duke’s Regional Advisory Committee and Georgina Durst, the Duke RAC coordinator,” said SRMC Emergency Services Unit Manager Natalie Russ. “They assist us with knowledge opportunities, connections to resources and standard processes. They have arranged opportunities for us to offer local Trauma Nursing Core Courses and Rural Trauma Courses to our nurses, residents and doctors, in order to prepare our staff to serve our patients efficiently. We review case studies with them on our trauma transfers to evaluate areas of opportunity and reflect on the standards of which we should be proud.”

Code Trauma starts with relaying the news of incoming trauma patients as an overhead announcement throughout the hospital, so that multiple departments can be ready at the patient’s bedside when they arrive, or just outside their door. When advance warning isn’t possible, the new code allows for some departments to prioritize requests and streamline the immediate procedures and paperwork so that services like blood, x-rays, and CT scans can be given as quickly as possible.

The code, which can be called as either Trauma Red or Trauma Yellow, can be activated by paramedics in the field, dispatchers handling calls, or an ED charge nurse or physician.

The difference between the red and yellow trauma codes is mainly based on whether the ED will need blood for a patient.

“A Trauma Red patient may have suffered blood loss, so we need to be prepared as quickly as possible to have blood products ready for transfusion,” said Emergency Services Director Sonja Hilburn. “The Trauma Red code will set that in motion before a provider needs to enter the order.”

SRMC sees an average of 65,000 patients a year in the emergency room, which has four beds dedicated for trauma patients. Between Jan. 1 and April 30 of this year, 1,968 patients arrived by ambulance with some sort of trauma. This number does not include the number of trauma patients who arrived in personal vehicles.


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