Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla Elevated to Level 1 Trauma Center

Top designation by American College of Surgeons reflects total care for every aspect of injury

Barbey Emergency and Trauma Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla

Top designation by American College of Surgeons reflects total care for every aspect of injury

Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla has been verified as a Level 1 trauma center, the highest designation awarded by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) to indicate the highest range of injury care available to patients.

Scripps Health now has two of the three Level 1 adult trauma centers in San Diego County, with Scripps La Jolla joining Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego.

“Several years ago, Scripps made a commitment to elevate this trauma center to the highest level possible while significantly increasing the amount of academic medical education,” said Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder. “Physician medical education has long been a core part of our health care mission, and now we offer trauma center physician training in addition to trauma research at two of our hospitals, Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego and now Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla — the only health system in San Diego County with two Level 1 trauma centers. Today, we celebrate the hard work and dedication of countless doctors, nurses, technicians and administrators over the past four years to reach this important goal.”

Driving the achievement was the development of a cutting-edge and collaborative research program, establishment of an academic training program for surgical residents from the Naval Medical Center San Diego and expansion of education programs for partnering healthcare providers as well as community members. 

“Level 1 verification for the trauma center at Scripps La Jolla will benefit all of the patients we treat each year, whether they suffer a traumatic brain injury, spinal injury, broken bones, or a gunshot wound,” said Walter Biffl, MD, Scripps La Jolla trauma medical director. “While we still provide the entire spectrum of trauma care, the addition of trauma research and resident training has ensured that all of our trauma team members stay focused on the latest developments in trauma care. Our research studies are based on the patients and injuries seen in our community, improving their care locally and sharing our findings with trauma providers worldwide.

“We are committed to keeping Scripps La Jolla at the forefront of trauma care for years to come. At the same time, our community education efforts are helping people prevent traumatic injuries by avoiding things like falls, cycling accidents and car crashes,” he said.

Strengths cited by surveyors

Surveyors from the ACS who evaluated the hospital cited numerous strengths including innovative clinical care guidelines, rapid and high-quality care of the most critical trauma patients, and outstanding collaboration with prehospital EMS providers and the San Diego County trauma system.

The surveyors noted excellent commitment from Scripps Health and hospital leadership, ensuring the necessary resources and creating a hospital culture focused on outstanding trauma care. Some examples included assembling an experienced leadership team; providing around-the-clock coverage by residents, physician assistants and nurse practitioners; and offering dedicated social workers to support patients and their families. The surveyors noted that the center had no adult patient transfers to other facilities over the past year because all the needed care was available on site.

Scripps La Jolla and Scripps Mercy are part of a countywide, six-hospital trauma system that was created in 1984 to greatly reduce preventable deaths by coordinating the care of patients with the most severe and life-threatening injuries.

Learn more about Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in San Diego, Calif.

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