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What is a Trauma Registry?

ESO Staff

For hospitals around the world, data and databases are the keys to improving processes, improving patient outcomes, and better understanding one’s community. While medical professionals have reviewed and analyzed trends in overall system operations for years, modern trauma centers are increasingly relying on a specialized set of data focusing specifically on adult trauma injuries, known as trauma registries.

History of Trauma Systems

According to the American College of Surgeons, the history of trauma care in America parallels the history of caring for injured military personnel during war. During the Civil War, the first documented triage processes, aid stations, and rapid transport to the hospital were recorded and disseminated. In fact, President Abraham Lincoln drove the creation of the first trauma manual.

While these standardized processes were, of course, rudimentary by today’s standards, they were a significant achievement at the time and laid the groundwork for injury management. During World War II, the concept of taking researchers into the battlefield to study outcomes began, and many of these wartime advances served as models for the modern trauma system.

More attention was drawn to trauma or injury in the U.S. during the development of the nation’s interstate highway system in the 1950s when researchers referred to traumatic injuries as a “national epidemic.” In the late 1960s, new efforts were launched to create regional EMS and 911 systems, and work began on the National Trauma Data Base.

In 1969, the first computerized trauma database was established at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago and became the prototype for the Illinois Trauma Registry. By the early 2000s, there were more than 1,150 adult trauma centers in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, including 190 level I and 263 level II centers.

Trauma Systems Help Decrease Death and Disability Rates

Successful deployment of trauma care systems, including the use of trauma registries, has played a significant role in driving down the death and disability rates from injuries. Like any database used for QI/QA, a trauma registry facilitates timely evaluation, monitoring, and research of trauma care and can be used for outreach, planning, and improvement.

Not only does a trauma registry help hospitals evaluate what is and isn’t working in their EDs and trauma centers, but its data can also be useful in financial planning and accreditation. Additionally, According to the American Trauma Society, hospital-based trauma prevention strategies and community outreach programs have a long history of success. Trauma centers are increasingly looking for ways to help reduce injuries before they occur, and the data in trauma registries help uncover what exactly is happening in their community.

Making the Role of Trauma Registrar More Efficient

Trauma registries are typically maintained by trauma registrars or trauma registry coordinators (in 2000, the designation of Certified Specialist in Trauma Registry was initiated). This role is vital in ensuring that records are complete and updated, and registrars must understand privacy regulations, medical codes, the billing process, and their hospital’s handshakes with other agencies.

To be an American College of Surgeons verified trauma center, hospitals are required to have 80% or more of the trauma patients entered into the registry within 60 days of discharge. Many hospitals have their own state, regional, and internal guidelines that require patient data to be added in even earlier. Today, software tools can play an essential role in making trauma system data easier to input, process, and update.

Additionally, trauma centers are increasingly looking for ways to incorporate data from prehospital care and EMS run reports. Data from EMS agencies can help form a better understanding of core community demographics, identify common causes of injury, and create more efficient injury prevention programs. Software like ESO Health Data Exchange (HDE) can directly link data from the EMS electronic patient care record (ePCR) into the hospital EHR. Hence, registrars reduce time spent searching for missing files.

Data to Drive Improvement

Just like in the early years of better understanding and documenting injuries, a complete understanding of trauma – and the ability to share this information with other healthcare professionals – can make a real impact on the number of lives saved across the nation. Data continues to be the key driver of change and improvement. More complete trauma registries are the framework to ensure this information is collected, analyzed, and shared most efficiently.

Learn more specific ways about how trauma registries can leverage EMS data.

Take a tour of ESO Health Data Exchange, software that facilitates bidirectional data sharing between hospitals and EMS.

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