The recent suspension of in-person site visits for trauma center verification is a temporary pause, not a permanent discontinuation, according to the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Leaders of ACS Trauma Quality Programs also clarified that once the COVID-19 pandemic eases, both in-person visits and virtual remote visits will likely play a role in the trauma center verification process.
“Over the last year, the ACS has learned the benefits of doing trauma site visits virtually, so we are prepared now to be flexible,” said Avery Nathens, MD, MPH, PhD, medical director of ACS Trauma Quality Programs. “We do see a role for virtual visits moving forward, but not necessarily as the sole means of conducting site reviews.”
In March 2020 the ACS suspended in-person site reviews in response to the pandemic and extended all verification periods for one year. In December, Trauma System News mistakenly reported that the ACS will permanently discontinue in-person site visits for trauma center verification. (For a corrected version of this report, read ACS announces major changes to trauma center verification.)
According to Dr. Nathens, the ACS has not made any decisions about how in-person and remote visits might be incorporated into the future verification process. However, the Verification Review Committee is open to a flexible approach.
“In all likelihood, there will be a large number of site visits that can be done in a fully virtual format,” Dr. Nathens said. “However, some visits could be done in a hybrid format, with one member of the review team on site and the rest of the team taking part virtually. And some visits might be best conducted with the whole team on site.”
“Trauma centers might very well still receive an in-person visit, so we want to make the trauma community aware of that,” Dr. Nathens said. “We see that there is a role for virtual visits, some hybrid visits and traditional in-person visits, but those decisions have not yet been made.”