Florida: After Level II opens doors, Level I trauma volumes drop only modestly

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A “trauma drama” battle in Florida’s Marion County appears to have reached an uneasy truce. Grim predictions of lost patient volumes have not come true, but questions remain about costs and appropriateness of care, according to an article in the Ocala Star-Banner.

Ocala Regional Medical Center began operating as a Level II trauma center in December 2012. Two weeks later, a group of hospitals sued the Florida Department of Health to block Ocala Regional’s trauma designation. Among the plaintiffs was UF Health Shands Hospital, a Level I trauma center in nearby Gainesville. According to the Star-Banner, trauma leaders at Shands predicted that the center’s patient volumes would drop 30%.

Two years later, publicly available data show only a modest decline in trauma volumes at the Level I center, according to the article. Shands treated 2,914 trauma patients during 2012. During 2013 — Ocala Regional’s first full year of operation as a trauma center — Shands treated 2,755 trauma patients, a 5% decline.

Still, questions remain about the cost impact of additional trauma center capacity in the region. The president of UF Health questioned whether additional trauma centers were creating unnecessary costs at the system level, according to the Star-Banner. He also raised the issue of over-triage to trauma care. Read the Full Article

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