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San Diego Trauma System

Image of a trauma care room.

What is a Trauma System?

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

The San Diego Trauma System has been recognized as one of the strongest, most effective trauma systems in the country. 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.

The Level 1 Trauma Center at UC San Diego Health is part of the San Diego Trauma System, and serves the area with the densest population in the county.

Trauma centers that are part of the San Diego Trauma System.

  • 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 – San Diego, Adult Level 1

How a Trauma System Saves Lives

A trauma victim's chance of survival depends on immediate response.

A trauma system quickly gets an injured person to the place with the appropriate level of care, and seamlessly provides lifesaving 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

Which Trauma Center Will You Go To?

In the event of a traumatic injury, you will be transported via ambulance or helicopter to one of the six centers that comprise the San Diego Trauma System.

The County’s emergency medical service (EMS) triages patients to one of the six centers based on a number of factors, including geographic proximity (known as a catchment area). 

Whether arriving by foot, ambulance or helicopter, critically injured people are rapidly assessed and the coordination of trauma care begins.

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      VIDEO: 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.

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