Three Perspectives on Public Safety Through the Lens of Trauma

In thinking about the ongoing efforts to increase public safety by making services more readily available and by developing new technologies, three particular areas came into focus.

Increased Availability of Trauma Care

Trauma care has been expanded in recent years. There once was only Level I trauma care, typically delivered by academic medical centers in teaching settings, and with an extremely wide geographic coverage and referral area. Trauma care has expanded to include the provision of Level II trauma centers. These are typically located in population areas of at least 500,000 people, making care more available and giving greater access. Level II trauma centers provide good trauma care without the encumbrances of time, distance, and the complexities of the teaching hospital environment. The primary difference between Level I and Level II trauma centers is that Level I centers, being affiliated with academic medical centers, do ongoing trauma research and teaching, whereas Level II centers do not do this to the same extent. Other than that the services are essentially the same. The proliferation of Level II Trauma Centers has been a significantly positive step in increasing access to trauma care and to expanding the commitment to public safety.

The Chauffeured Society

Sometimes referred to as “The Uber Affect,” the advent and proliferation of transportation options may have a positive impact on the number of traffic accidents, particularly those related to impaired driving. Perhaps the most obvious positive impact of a chauffeured society would be fewer incidents of drunk, distracted, or reckless drivers on the road. Having access to a means of transportation, available to be located and accessed electronically, allows for a safe escape for people who are lost or in a negative or dangerous situation with no vehicle. Though there can always be the instance of irresponsible “chauffeurs,” drivers for Uber and other similar services have a personal vested interest in driving well and are usually highly responsible.

Self-Driving Cars

Since seven of the top 10 leading causes of automobile accidents can be linked to bad decision-making, there is hope in the development of self-driving cars. If perfected, self-driving vehicles may positively affect public safety and decrease the number of trauma cases over time. Like the positive impacts of Uber, drunk, distracted, or reckless drivers are theoretically no longer a factor in the operation of the vehicle. Incidents of speeding and road rage should decrease, as well. On the other hand, no driver would have full control of the car. Passengers could be unaware of the car being low on gas, not paying close enough attention to where the car is driving, and not taking responsibility watching the cars around them.

Bottom Line – Trauma is a Disease

Public safety is a particularly pointed issue for orthopedic trauma surgeons. Any solutions that can be tried in an effort to reduce the awful impact of bad decision-making should be considered. “The part of our population that has bad accidents, caused by drinking, drugs, and distraction, will likely continue to have bad accidents due to bad life decisions. A substantial portion of people making bad life decisions will continue to make bad life decisions. This happens until it finally kills them. They can only be put back together so many times before they make that last bad decision that kills them. This is why we often observe that “Trauma is a disease.”

This blog post excerpts an article in the Q1 2017 Provider Advisor, where we interviewed Dr. Patrick Leach, trauma surgeon, for his perspective on some of the trends prevalent in healthcare.

April 1, 2021