In 2013, Dr. Christopher Urbina, former executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced that the criteria for Level I designation as a trauma center would be reduced to treating 320 critically injured patients per year. Research has demonstrated that centers that treat 600 critically injured per year have the best outcomes because it keeps their skills sharp. As other hospitals gear up to be designated trauma centers, this may be another case of too much competition at great expense. The over designation of trauma centers would require Level I and II service to have to pay to have surgeons and other healthcare providers on call to assure that each hospital is prepared to provide intervention for the seriously injured 24 hours a day/ 365 days a year. In essence the proposed change would simply increase competition and result in a duplication of services that drive up costs and dilute the quality of trauma care for Coloradoans. Most trauma experts believe a population of 2.5 million in the Denver metro area justifies just a single Level I Trauma Center, not the three that we presently have.
In 2009 the American College of Surgeons conducted a comprehensive review of the Colorado Trauma System and completed with the assessment that it “likely reflects an excess of trauma centers that are competing for patients, reducing the volume at each center, and duplicating expensive resources.”