USA Trauma Center

Physician referral: 800-388-8721

Information: (251) 471-7300


The Trauma Center at USA Health University Hospital is the first in south Alabama to earn Level I status, indicating the highest level of care. A Level I center such as University Hospital provides a systematic response to trauma utilizing resources from all medical specialties to meet the special needs of the seriously injured patient at a moment's notice.  This organized approach greatly improves the patient’s chance for survival. 



Studies have shown that the more experience the staff has with high-risk surgical situations, the better the patient's chances are for survival. The American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma suggests that this level of experience can be obtained by treating 600-1,000 trauma patients each year. University Hospital admits more than 1,400 trauma patients per year.


What Differentiates the USA Trauma Center From Other Hospitals:

  • Board-certified trauma surgeon in-house 24 hours a day.
  • A designated trauma team composed of a trauma surgeon, emergency physician, surgical residents, trauma nurse coordinator, trauma/emergency department nurses, radiologic technologist, respiratory therapists, and an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist. This team responds to every trauma alert patient brought to the University of South Alabama Trauma Center.
  • Two dedicated shock-trauma beds in the emergency department.
  • An operating room staffed 24 hours a day to accommodate trauma cases.
  • A 16-bed Surgical/Trauma Intensive Care Unit staffed by specially trained nurses and with physician coverage in the unit 24 hours a day. 
  • Portable ultrasound dedicated to trauma services.
  • A trauma follow-up clinic where all trauma patients are assessed after discharge for referral to appropriate post-discharge treatment and rehabilitation, if needed.



What is Trauma?

Trauma is accidental or intentional injuries that lead to life threatening situations. Trauma is the leading cause of death among Americans under 44 years of age, killing more people than cancer, heart disease, AIDS or other diseases.

Every six minutes, someone in the United States either dies or is permanently disabled from trauma. It affects one of every three people and at more than $400 billion annually is America's most costly health condition.


The Golden Hour

The “Golden Hour” is the first 60 minutes after an injury in which the lives of a majority of critically injured trauma patients can be saved if definitive surgical intervention is provided. This golden hour begins at the moment of injury, and includes notification of police/fire-rescue/EMS, providing initial stabilization at the scene of the accident and transport to a trauma center, where appropriate medical staff can perform the necessary life saving interventions.


The Trauma System

To improve the odds of survival for trauma victims, the state of Alabama has developed a regionalized trauma system. Trauma systems improve survival rates by enhancing the efficiency of health care delivery. By utilizing protocols and algorithms, patients are assured of appropriate care within the “golden hour.”

Components of the Alabama Trauma System are: EMS, or emergency medical services personnel (ground and air), 911 and trauma communications centers, and a network of participating hospitals designated as trauma centers.  While 911 centers dispatch the necessary resources to respond to the scene of an accident, trauma communications centers route EMS crews to appropriate trauma centers based on the patient’s specific injuries and the location of the accident.


Trauma Centers

Trauma Centers such as University Hospital are hospitals with a commitment to treat trauma patients. However, establishing a trauma center can be extremely costly, as it requires dedicated surgeons and support personnel, along with necessary technologies and facilities. For this reason, only a handful of hospitals serve as trauma centers.

The Alabama Department of Public Health conducts an inventory of hospitals participating in the trauma system to determine their level of capability.

Level I - These facilities are regional centers which have the capability of providing leadership and total care for every aspect of injury, from prevention through rehabilitation. These centers offer comprehensive care, including advanced surgical care. University Hospital is the only Level I Trauma Center in southwest Alabama.

Level II - These facilities are expected to provide initial definitive trauma care regardless of severity of injury. Patients with more complex injuries may have to be transferred to a Level I center.

Level III - These facilities provide prompt assessment, resuscitation, emergency operations, and stabilization. They also arrange for possible transfer to a Level I or Level II facility that can provide definitive trauma care.


Admissions and Referrals

Hospitals within the USA Trauma Center region (southeastern Mississippi, southern Alabama, Florida panhandle) may already be participating in an Automatic Acceptance agreement. The Automatic Acceptance agreements reduce the amount of time it takes to transfer a patient to the USA Trauma Center by eliminating the standard referral process. 

Referring physicians simply call the University Hospital Emergency Department to give a report of the patient transfer and estimated time of the patient’s arrival. This process facilitates a patient’s entry into the trauma system within the golden hour confinements, which improves the chances for favorable outcomes. 

If you are uncertain whether your facility has an Automatic Acceptance agreement with the University of South Alabama Trauma Center, contact your hospital administrator or emergency department medical director.  

If your facility does not have an Automatic Acceptance agreement, or if you are uncertain, you may call the USA Physicians Referral Line at 800-388-8721.


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