Guest op-ed: Protect patients, preserve trauma care

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The following is a guest op-ed from Dr. Robert Borrego, medical director of trauma services at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach.

Trauma care.  This is not a topic that Floridians think about on a daily basis.  But when you or a loved one is in a horrific accident, is the victim of a crime or suffers a traumatic injury from a fall, you expect and deserve your health care system to deliver the best possible outcomes in your scenario.  

As a trauma surgeon, I see these cases firsthand day in and day out and have the necessary experience and training to ensure my patients receive the best possible care.  But, that trauma care could be threatened by legislation (Senate Bill 966 and House Bill 817) that is currently before the Florida Legislature. 

This legislation is bad public policy, as it would overhaul the approval process for new trauma centers in Florida, and would remove quality and safety standards for care provided to trauma patients. 

These policy changes, which notably have not been heard in a single health care committee because the language was amended onto legislation during its final committee stop, would lead to the proliferation of trauma centers, which adds exorbitant costs and puts the lives of Floridians, who have suffered a traumatic injury, at unprecedented risk. 

There is documented evidence that shows trauma centers and surgeons who treat a large number of seriously injured patients have better outcomes and that the concentration of too many, unnecessary centers in one area compromises the quality of trauma care provided. For this very reason, the American College of Surgeons recommends having only one or two high-level trauma centers for every 1 million people, which is a standard that is currently met in Florida.  

Florida’s trauma system is already one of the best in the world, with trauma centers strategically located to provide efficient and high quality trauma care to all Floridians.  Why compromise a system that consistently outperforms other states and delivers the best possible outcomes to Florida’s trauma patients? 

I urge our state’s lawmakers to strike down this bad public policy to protect Florida’s patients and preserve quality trauma care in Florida. 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.