Office of Emergency Medical Services

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NJ Trauma Centers

What is Trauma?

Trauma is any physical injury caused by violence or other forces. Serious trauma puts the patient at risk of death or loss of function.

Types of Trauma

There are three types of serious trauma: penetrating, blunt, or burns. Other categories, such as poisoning and drowning, are sometimes considered under the heading, "trauma." Persons with traumatic injuries may have a combination of injury types.

What Patients Go Where?

Good trauma care depends on getting the right patient to the right place at the right time. The right place is determined by matching the patient's needs with the availability of definitive trauma care, that is usually, surgery. A concept called "triage" (sorting) is used to determine which patients are seriously injured and should go to a trauma center. (See the Adult and Pediatric Trauma Triage Guidelines) Because it can provide definitive surgical care in the shortest amount of time, the trauma center is the most appropriate medical facility for seriously injured patients. Care is waiting for the trauma patient, instead of the patient having to wait for care.

What is a Trauma Center?

Trauma centers are specially equipped and organized hospitals, specializing in caring for seriously injured patients. Trauma center care guarantees the immediate availability of specialized personnel, equipment, and capabilities 24 hours a day. These centers work closely with each other and with local community hospitals to assure the best possible appropriate trauma care. Level I and Level II trauma centers are located on a population and geographic basis across New Jersey.

Level I Trauma Centers
  • UMDNJ-University Hospital, Newark
  • Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick
  • Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center, Camden
Level II Trauma Centers
  • Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack
  • St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Paterson
  • Jersey City Medical Center, Jersey City
  • Morristown Memorial Hospital, Morristown
  • Capital Health System at Fuld, Trenton
  • Jersey Shore Medical Center, Neptune
  • AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Atlantic City
What's the Difference Between a Level I and a Level II Trauma Center?

Because of the large personnel and facility resources needed for patient care, education and research, most Level I trauma centers in the U.S. are university-affiliated teaching hospitals. This is the case in New Jersey, where all three Level I trauma centers are hospitals which are affiliated with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. A Level I trauma center is a regional resource facility and has the capability to provide total care for all aspects of trauma, from prevention through rehabilitation.

Level I trauma centers in New Jersey must treat a minimum of 600 patients per year. This is because data show there is a correlation between patient outcome and the number of procedures which a surgeon performs annually. Adequate experience with life-threatening or urgent cases is necessary for the trauma team to maintain its skills. Cost-effectiveness is also a consideration.

Level II trauma centers are also expected to provide definitive trauma care, regardless of the severity of injury. Level II trauma centers have most of the clinical capabilities of a Level I. Level II trauma centers are required to participate in trauma research conducted by the Level Is and to sponsor public and provider educational programs in cooperation with the Level I centers. Level II trauma centers must treat a minimum of 350 patients per year.



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