Purpose: The care for severely injured patients is a demanding task for all medical professionals involved in both the pre-clinical and the clinical setting. While the overall quality of care in Germany is high, regional differences remain. These are due to geographical and infrastructural variations, as well as different personnel and equipment situations in the hospitals.
Methods: In September 2006, the white paper 'Treatment of the severely injured' was published by the German Society of Trauma Surgery (DGU). The white paper asks for the improvement of comprehensive care and postulates the foundation of networks between trauma centres: a regional TraumaNetwork (TNW). All hospitals within a TNW are classified as local, regional or supraregional trauma centres by distinct criteria regarding personnel and equipment, as well as admission capacity and responsibility. Furthermore, agreements between the trauma centres and the pre-hospital rescue systems regulate the admission and transfer of patients in a TNW.
Results: To date, 878 hospitals are registered in 53 regional TNWs. A total of 511 hospitals have already been audited on-site. Preparing for the audit, 54.4% of the hospitals implemented organisational changes (e.g. inter-disciplinary guidelines), while 31.4% introduced personnel and 14.7% structural (e.g. X-ray in the emergency room [ER]) changes. In September 2011, the certification process was completed in 19 TNWs, comprising a mean of 14 (range 5-26) hospitals each. Moreover, international TNWs in co-operation with hospitals in Holland, Luxemburg, Switzerland and Austria were established.
Conclusions: The TraumaNetwork DGU(®) audits all hospitals participating in the care for severely injured patients and establishes a structured network between all the players involved in trauma care. Thirty TNWs will be certified by the end of 2011, covering 75% of Germany. The nationwide covering will be completed by the middle of 2012.
Keywords: Quality of trauma care; Trauma centres; Trauma network; White paper.