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Iowa Department of Health and Human Services

The State of Iowa Trauma Program

The Bureau of Emergency Medical and Trauma Services (BETS) Trauma Program works alongside Iowa’s 118 hospitals to protect and improve the health of all trauma patients injured in Iowa. The Iowa State Trauma Program utilizes trauma registry data, injury prevention and outreach, hospital verification, and performance improvement resources to assist Iowa’s hospitals with optimizing the care of injured patients to improve outcomes and reduce morbidity and mortality from traumatic injury. 

According to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report's Economic Cost of Injury Report of 2019, the economic cost of injury in the United States was $4.2 trillion, including $327 billion in medical care, $69 billion in work loss, and $3.8 trillion in value of statistical life and quality of life losses. Unintentional and violence-related injuries remain among the top 10 causes of death for all age groups in the U.S. and caused nearly 27 million nonfatal emergency department visits in 2019. According to the 2020 CDC WISQARS Data set, approximately 271,500 people died from injuries and violence in the United States, including approximately 2,300 Iowans. According to the same WISQARS data set, more than 40,000 Americans died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020, 340 of them being Iowans. Approximately 42,000 Americans died from a fall, 617 of them from Iowa, and a concerning trend in suicide claimed the lives of almost 46,000 Americans, with 552 being Iowans. Trauma remains a major problem affecting the health and functionality of Iowans across the state.

State of Iowa Plan for Trauma System Development 2022-2027

The Bureau of Emergency Medical and Trauma Services staff, along with many contributors dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families in Iowa collaboratively developed the 5-year State of Iowa Plan for Trauma System Development 2022-2027. This plan will:

  • Guide comprehensive system development
  • Address system operational requirements
  • Allow for local trauma system variations based on assessment results
  • Reflect inclusiveness of the operational components as they fall under assessment, policy development, and assurance
  • Demonstrate an all-encompassing methodology, ranging from injury prevention activities to prehospital trauma care, acute care facilities, and post-acute care rehabilitation
  • Reflect integration with the State Health Plan and with the State’s Emergency Response Plan
  • Allow for a dynamic process that will evolve with changing injury epidemiology and resource availability – both human and financial

The ultimate evaluation outcome of trauma system implementation is a reduction in morbidity and mortality. Iowa will accomplish this goal by planning and implementing a care improvement process, enhancing system performance, using evidence-based research, developing and implementing targeted injury prevention programs, and revisions to trauma system plans based on system assessments and data-based needs.

Iowa Trauma System Consultation 

In 2015, The American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, Trauma Systems Evaluation and Planning Committee, evaluated the Iowa Trauma System as part of a consultative effort to improve the quality of the trauma program in Iowa.  The report points out that, "Iowa has a long history of participation in organized trauma care as one of the first states to fully embrace an inclusive trauma system model that provide(s) a role for all acute care facilities, regardless of geographic location or hospital capabilities." The trauma program remains committed to the inclusive trauma system model.  The recommendations outlined in the consultative report for improving the trauma program in Iowa remain the focus of work of the Iowa Trauma Program and the Trauma System Advisory Council and while many recommendations have been achieved, there is still ample room for continued growth and improvement.  The full report can be read at the link directly below.  

Out of Hospital Trauma Triage Destination Decision Protocols

The trauma program has many resources that can be accessed by EMS and trauma programs that are working to optimize the care of injured patients. An Out of Hospital Trauma Triage Destination Decision Protocol has been developed to assist the EMS provider in the identification of time critical injuries, method of transport, and trauma care facility resources necessary for treatment of those injuries.  Protocols have been developed for both adults and pediatrics.

Verification Criteria

The State of Iowa Trauma Coordinator oversees the verification of all Trauma Level III and IV hospitals that are not verified by the American College of Surgeons.  The administrative rules that govern the categorization and verification of each trauma level are in Iowa Administrative Code (IAC 641-134.2 (147A) and (IAC 641-134.2(3) a) and b).  The Resources for the Optimal Care of the Injured Patient 2014 by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma is adopted by reference into rule.  These are the criteria by which Iowa trauma facilities are verified.  A quick link to The Resources for the Optimal Care of the Injured Patient 2014 can be found below.

Additional resources can be found at the adjacent page links and include: links to the administrative rules which govern the Iowa Trauma System, the Trauma System Advisory Council, education resources, trauma data registry resources, trauma disciplinary action, and the trauma care facilities map. 

The State of Iowa Trauma Program and its advisory councils remain committed to the Iowa Department of Public Health's mission: Protecting and Improving the Health of Iowans. 

This page was last updated in April 2023.