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If asked where a person who suffers critical or life-threatening injuries would be taken by paramedics, most people would automatically identify the emergency room. While this is technically correct, the reality is that they would likely be taken to a trauma center, which is typically located within the emergency room.

Indeed, these facilities are staffed by skilled surgeons who use state-of-the-art equipment to help save the lives of those involved in everything from motor vehicle crashes and burn accidents to violent incidents and other "traumatic" events.

Interestingly, state regulations divide Florida into 19 distinct "trauma service areas," and also dictate that only a set number of trauma centers can operate in each of these areas and that the total number of trauma centers in the state can't exceed 33.

This may soon change, however, as the Florida Department of Health is poised to introduce a new regulation that will dramatically change the state's position on trauma centers.

Specifically, the new regulation would do the following:

  • Raise the total number of permitted trauma centers from 33 to 44
  • Eliminate the regional caps on trauma centers
  • Establish a minimum number of regional trauma centers

Not surprisingly, the proposal has garnered both criticism and praise.

Those falling into the former camp are fearful that the absence of a regional cap will result in a disproportionate number of trauma centers being opened in certain areas of the state as well as the poaching of talent, while those falling into the latter camp are firm in their belief that the increased competition will mean both better services for patients and better outcomes.

Given that this will become the new reality sooner than later, it will be interesting to see what impact this has on healthcare and how medical systems respond to what amounts to a larger playing field.

Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you or your medical organization has questions or concerns about practice restructuring, expansion or other regulatory issues.

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