CATEGORY: Legislature

AUTHOR: BOBBY

HED:Trauma Care Task Force activated

By Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON - A new task force, which includes doctors, other emergency service providers and hospital administrators, will try to develop a plan to reduce the more than 2,200 deaths caused by trauma each year in Mississippi.

The Mississippi Trauma Care Task Force, which was created by the Legislature to develop recommendations for the 1998 Legislature to consider, held its organizational meeting Monday at the Governor's Mansion.

Gov. Kirk Fordice, who had a life-threatening wreck in November, met with the group to emphasize the importances of trauma care for the state.

Fordice said the problem often is that people involved in car wrecks or other trauma situations are not routed to the correct hospital fast enough.

"My dream is that we can remedy that so that every citizen has the same excellent chance I did and receives the same excellent care I did," Fordice said.

State Health Office Dr. Ed Thompson said trauma is the "leading cause of potential life lost." He said trauma cases - unintentional injuries plus homicides - result in more than 50,000 years of potential life lost in Mississippi each year.

Trauma kills twice as many people before age 65 as heart disease and cancer combined, according to statistics from the Mississippi Department of Health.

Dr. Briggs Hopson of Vicksburg, who will serve as chairman of the task force, said the group will tackle various controversial issues, such as how much state funding is needed to create a statewide system and how Mississippi hospitals will be classified for trauma services.

Thompson said the state has some excellent trauma centers. But a statewide system must be developed to route trauma victims to the correct facility as soon as possible.

The idea for the trauma care task force began to gain support after both Fordice and Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove suffered serious automobile accidents during 1996. Both credited quick and excellent medical care with helping to save their lives.

Dr. James Kirksey Jr. of Tupelo is the only Northeast Mississippian on the task force.

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