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J Trauma. 1998 Feb;44(2):372-6.

Use of physician assistants as surgery/trauma house staff at an American College of Surgeons-verified Level II trauma center.

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Department of Physician Assistants, Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan 48503, USA.



Historically, surgical physicians staff trauma centers, which provide trauma patients with improved outcomes. Such benefits fuel the expansion of designated trauma centers. Cutbacks in residency programs of surgical specialties, however, necessitate substitutions for traditional trauma providers.


A literature and record review was conducted to examine the use of physician assistants in a large community hospital's verified trauma center. Current and historical outcomes were analyzed regarding the trauma surgeon/physician assistant model.


Injury Severity Scores increased 19%, transfer time to the operating room decreased 43%, transfer time to the intensive care unit decreased 51%, and transfer time to the floor decreased 20%. The length of stay for admissions decreased 13%, and the length of stay for neurotrauma intensive care unit patients decreased 33%.


The Hurley Medical Center trauma surgeon/physician assistant model is a viable alternative for verified trauma centers unable to maintain a surgical residency program. Consistency and quality of care indicated by shortened length of stay is a hallmark of such a model providing the highest quality of care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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