Injury Prevention

About the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Center

The Differences Among Trauma Centers: What Parents Need to Know

In Pennsylvania there are four types of trauma centers:

  1. Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Centers (PTC)
  2. Level 1 Adult Trauma Centers (ATC)
  3. Level 1 Adult Trauma Centers with Added Qualifications in Pediatrics (ATC AQ)
  4. Level 2 Adult Trauma Centers

There are many differences between trauma centers with regard to their ability to treat injured children. For instance, to be designated a PTC, a children’s hospital must have a full complement of pediatric surgical specialties, including pediatric general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopaedic and cardiac surgery, as well as pediatric intensivists and anesthesiologists, available at all times.

In contrast, to be designated an ATC AQ, the main requirement is a single pediatric general surgeon on call. Other pediatric surgical specialists are not required.

These differences can mean the difference between life and death.

The Numbers Speak for Themselves

According to a study by Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (Journal of Trauma, Aug. 2000) children 16 and younger who sustain severe injuries following blunt or penetrating trauma, have the best overall outcome when treated in a PTC rather than an adult trauma center. (Click here to read abstract.)

The study uncovered that:

  • PTCs treated 5,189 children and had a 3.6 percent mortality rate.
  • ATC AQs treated 3,636 children and had a 4.3 percent mortality rate.
  • Level 1 ATC treated 1,207 and had an 8.0 percent mortality rate.
  • Level 2 ATC treated 3,319 and had a 4.7 percent mortality rate.

Nobody Knows Children Like Children’s

The Benedum Pediatric Trauma Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is one of only 15 accredited PTCs in the country, one of two in Pennsylvania and the only PTC in the western half of the state. Established in 1984, the program has a three-part approach to pediatric trauma:

  1. Provide specialized emergency medical care and treatment for children who are the victims of trauma, which is any injury to the body;
  2. Research the causes, frequency and outcomes of pediatric trauma; and
  3. Educate adults and children about injury prevention.

The program is accredited by the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation. If you are interested in helping us achieve our mission, please consider making a contribution. Click here to help.


Last Update
November 13, 2008
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Last Update
November 13, 2008