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San Diego Trauma System

New Trauma Center

Trauma Resuscitation Unit equipment at UC San Diego Level 1 Trauma Center

UC San Diego Health System's Level 1 Trauma Center is part of the San Diego Trauma System. The San Diego Trauma System has been recognized as one of the strongest, most effective trauma systems in the United States. In fact, a person who has sustained a life-threatening injury in San Diego County stands twice the chance of surviving than if the injury had occurred in nearly any other part of the U.S.

A trauma system is a coordinated, integrated effort of multiple hospitals, clinics and the public health system to provide the full range of care to injured patients in a particular region.

The San Diego Trauma System serves all of San Diego County. The system is made up of six trauma centers. They include:

  • Palomar Medical Center – North County, Adult Level 2
  • Scripps Memorial Hospital – La Jolla, Adult Level 2
  • Scripps Mercy Hospital – San Diego, Adult Level 1
  • Sharp Memorial Hospital – Kearny Mesa area, Adult Level 2
  • Rady Children’s Hospital – Kearny Mesa area, Pediatric Level 1
  • UC San Diego Health System – San Diego, Adult Level 1

A trauma system gets an injured person to the place with the appropriate level of care quickly, and seamlessly provides life-saving specialty medical attention. Since the inception of the San Diego County Trauma System in 1984, the preventable death rate from major traumatic injury in the county fell from 21 percent to less than 1 percent.

“You have one of the, if not THE best trauma system in this country.”

Vice Admiral Richard Carmona, MD, MPH, United States Surgeon General

UC San Diego Trauma Center serves the area west of the 805 to the ocean, and south of highway 8 down to the Mexican border. This area has the densest population in San Diego County. When a situation arises where a large number of children are critically injured and Rady Children’s Hospital goes into trauma bypass, (when the hospital can take no more patients), UC San Diego Trauma Center handles the care of pediatric trauma patients in the County. There is no trauma system and limited physician specialty coverage in Imperial County. Many patients are transferred to our Trauma Center from Imperial County hospitals.

A trauma victim’s chance of survival depends on immediate response. The County’s emergency medical service (EMS) triages patients to one of the six centers based on a number of factors, including geographic proximity (called a catchment area). Whether arriving by ambulance, helicopter or on foot, critically injured people are rapidly assessed and the coordination of trauma care begins.

The Truth About Trauma - inspiring stories of six trauma patients of the San Diego County Trauma System and a closer look at how the system works.