OHSU Hospital Recognized for its Successful Trauma and Head Injury Programs

11/16/99    Portland, Ore.

Trauma Centers Across the Country Honor Oregon's Only Teaching Hospital for its Success.

Dozens of respected health care providers agree: OHSU Hospital's trauma system ranks among the country's very best. That's the finding of a study conducted by the University HealthSystem Consortium, an organization made up of 53 university medical centers across the nation. The group designated OHSU Hospital's overall trauma program an "outstanding performer" when compared to other medical centers involved in the study. The hospital's neurotrauma program also received an "outstanding performer" designation for its ingenuity and success. A dozen additional level-I trauma centers outside of the UHC took part in the study.

OHSU's trauma and neurotrauma programs outscored similar systems at well-known medical teaching institutions, such as Yale-New Haven Hospital, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, the University of Michigan Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center at the University of Washington. The designations make the hospital's programs national models for health systems across the country.

A number of factors were considered in the overall trauma center designation. Those factors included the average length of stay for patients, hospital staffing systems, consumer costs, mortality rates and cooperation between various departments involved in a patient's care. OHSU Hospital was specifically singled out for the effective use of its emergency department observation unit. The hospital also was applauded for having dedicated surgeons and anesthesiologists on hand at all times for trauma cases. At many institutions, these doctors and specialists are contacted through an on-call system.

In reviewing OHSU' s neurotrauma program, researchers focused on head injury patients who also have suffered broken legs. The study targeted patients with these injuries to compare how participating hospitals handled complex cases in which trauma surgeons, neurosurgeons and orthopedists must work cooperatively. In this category, the hospital was praised for its innovative, newly designed trauma-neurosurgery intensive care unit with specially trained nurses. The hospital also was recognized for having a specialized trauma neurosurgeon on staff. Randy Chesnut, M.D., associate professor of neurological surgery and director of neurotrauma and critical care at OHSU, is the only neurosurgeon in the Northwest who cares exclusively for head injury patients.

Donald Trunkey, M.D., professor and chairman of the department of surgery at OHSU, says the study results reflect the hard work and dedication of hospital staff. "This research confirms what a lot of Northwesterners already know," Trunkey said. "OHSU Hospital is committed to providing the best care possible for its trauma patients."

OHSU trauma coordinator Maureen Harrahill, R.N., M.S., A.C.N.P.-C.S., agrees. She also believes the findings will help devise a plan for the future. "OHSU has remained committed to the Oregon trauma system since it was created in 1987," said Harrahill. "The information gained in this research will be utilized to chart a course for the hospital and our trauma center into the next millennium."

Earlier this year, OHSU Hospital received another national honor; a Consumer's Choice Award presented by the National Research Corporation. The award is based on the results of a regional survey in which Northwest residents were asked to name the hospital with the best staff, reputation, technology and overall quality. The results of the survey were printed in the Oct. 4 issue of Modern Healthcare.