Trauma systems aimed to improve quality of care

It happened almost two years ago, but Kinney Noe can talk about it like it was yesterday. "I arrived at UK with no blood pressure."

In an unimaginable hunting accident, Kinney Noe fell from a tree stand and ended up with a tree going from his abdomen to his upper back. The accident caused Noe to spend 169 days at the University of Kentucky Medical Center.

"It's funny, every time I hear on the news somebody is flown to UK, I can relive it. I know what they're going through," said Noe's wife, Rita.

"When a patient comes fairly well injured they activate the trauma team," said trauma surgeon Dr. Andrew Bernard. WKYT was given clearance to follow Dr. Bernard during an afternoon at UK's Trauma Center. Moments after we arrived, word came that a woman with a severe abdominal injury was being flown in. "We have two levels of trauma team activation, trauma alert and trauma alert red so this was a trauma alert but it's been upgraded to a trauma alert red so the patient must be unstable," Bernard said. "The trauma team is good at this and this should unfold in a very predictable pattern." After about 15 minutes, doctors determine surgery will be necessary.

UK's medical center holds the title of a 'level one' trauma center. Dr. Bernard was a pioneer contributor to establishing a trauma system or 'levels' in Kentucky. "Trauma systems save lives and increase efficiency and save money," Bernard said.
There's a scattering of trauma centers in the state now. They range from level one to four. The numbers speak to the services each center provides. A level 4 won't perform surgery on a trauma patient like level one. But the lower levels are trained to give quick assessments to get the patient to the right level of care. Bernard says "there's no difference in quality between one, two, three and four and the public doesn't always get that."

Kinney Noe needed level one care the day that forever changed him. "I thanked them for saving my life, many times."
A success Bernard says is owed to a team and a routine strategic system, for patients that are anything but routine.
"It's the biggest privilege in the world to take care of patients," Bernard said.