To identify all hospitals in the United States that operated a trauma center between 1980 and 1991 and to contrast their organizational, service, and medical staff characteristics.
Trauma centers were identified through a series of surveys and follow-up discussions with state emergency medical service directors. Data on hospital characteristics were obtained through the American Hospital Association's 1990 Annual Survey of Hospitals.
Materials and Methods
Hospital characteristics were compared across: (1) hospitals with and without trauma centers; (2) operational and closed trauma centers; and (3) trauma centers-based on trauma level and source of designation.
Measurements and Main Results
Overall, 471 operational trauma centers and 58 hospitals that dropped this service were identified. Several differences were found in hospital operational, service, and medical staff characteristics across hospitals with and without trauma centers and across trauma centers distinguished by trauma level and by whether they continued to provide the service through 1991. Few differences were present across formally designated and self-designated centers.
The study provides structural and organizational profiles of trauma centers that should help trauma system planners identify strong candidates for trauma center designation.