Surgeons are well familiar with the statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifying trauma as the leading cause of death for children and adults under age 44. More Americans lose their lives each year to trauma than to AIDS and stroke combined. Unfortunately, nearly 45 million Americans live in areas more than an hour away from either a Level I or II trauma center. Ensuring access to trauma care requires many crucial components including trauma centers and appropriately trained physicians and nurses, all of which must dedicate extensive resources around the clock so that seriously injured patients have the best possible chance for survival.
It has long been a top legislative priority of the ACS to establish and maintain adequate funding for high-quality trauma systems throughout the United States, including those systems operated by our armed forces.The ACS was a sponsor of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) report entitled, A National Trauma Care System: Integrating Military and Civilian Trauma Systems to Achieve Zero Preventable Deaths After Injury. This report, released in June of 2016, outlines the steps necessary to secure a national trauma system and sets the goal of achieving zero preventable traumatic deaths.
In an effort to facilitate the achievement of the goals laid out in the report, The Mission Zero Act (H.R. 880) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX), Representatives Cathy Castor (D-FL), Gene Green (D-TX), and Richard Hudson (R-NC). Identical companion legislation was introduced in the Senate (S.1022) by Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). The Mission Zero Act creates a grant program to assist civilian trauma centers in partnering with military trauma professionals to establish a pathway to provide patients with the highest quality of trauma care in times of peace and war, thus taking a step in the direction of the NAM report recommendations.
Specifically, the legislation provides for:
• $40 million in grants to fund military trauma teams and providers to embed into civilian trauma facilities.
o Trauma centers are eligible for a $1 million grant to host military trauma teams at eligible high-acuity level 1 trauma centers
o Trauma centers are also eligible for grants to host individual providers ($100,000 for physician or $50,000 for non-physician providers) at eligible level I, II, or III trauma centers
As of today, the House and Senate versions of the Mission Zero Act have 25co-sponsors and 2 co-sponsors respectively. The ACS would very much like to build some momentum for the Mission Zero Act going into the fall when it is expected that there will be several large “must pass” pieces of legislation working their way through Congress to which the Mission Zero Act could potentially be attached. Accordingly, I respectfully ask all Fellows to take a few moments to visit the SurgeonsVoice website at www.surgeonsvoice.org, click on the Take Action tab on the right side of the page and send a message to their individual representatives and senators seeking support for this important legislation.
Until next month …
Dr. Bailey is a pediatric surgeon and Medical Director, Advocacy, for the Division of Advocacy and Health Policy in the ACS offices in Washington, DC.