Trauma Care: Things You Need But Didn’t Know You Needed

Think about some things you didn’t know you needed … or hoped you’d never need … until you do. A fire extinguisher. A clone of your toddler’s stuffed animal; the one that you lost on vacation and she can’t sleep without. A digital assistant, such as Ask Google, Siri or Alexa. Yep, pretty smart thinking on your part to have these items on hand in a situation.

That’s how it is with trauma centers. We hope you never need one, but if you or someone you love suffers a serious or life-threatening injury, it’s nice to know there are a number of them around North Texas.

Why we need trauma centers.

According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 30 Texans die every day from injuries — about 10,000 each year. Traumatic injuries are the leading cause of death in persons aged 1 to 44 years old. For every trauma victim who dies, at least six are seriously injured. These sobering statistics demonstrate that having a trauma center nearby can mean the difference between life and death for no less than 60,000 Texans annually.

Where trauma centers are located.

Not every hospital is a trauma center, as the resources and staff required to maintain one require a true commitment to providing comprehensive regional care for every aspect of injury – from prevention through rehabilitation. Therefore, trauma centers are located in hospitals equipped with specific resources and trauma specialists. These trauma experts are specially trained to provide treatment and care to severely injured patients. Traumatic injuries can include motor vehicle accidents and falls, among others.

Trauma center services complement traditional hospital and emergency department services and enhance the level of care that hospitals provide to the communities they serve.

The process to becoming a designated trauma center is voluntary. Hospitals seeking the designation must operate as a trauma center for one year before they can apply for verification by the American College of Surgeons.

Trauma center levels.

Trauma centers are categorized by levels, from I through IV. Level I is the highest level of trauma care for the most seriously injured patients. In North Texas, the first and only hospital in Collin County to achieve Level I Trauma Center classification is Medical City Plano, which received verification from the American College of Surgeons and designation from the Texas Department of State Health Services in May 2017.

Trauma surgeon Matt Carrick, MD, trauma director at Medical City Plano, explains the difference in trauma levels and why having a Level I trauma center in Collin County is so important to the community.

According to the American Trauma Society, elements of a Level I trauma center include:

  • 24-hour in-house coverage by general surgeons and prompt availability of specialties such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial, pediatric and critical care
  • Providing leadership in prevention and public education to surrounding communities
  • Providing continuing education for the trauma team members.
  • Operating an organized teaching and research effort to help advance innovations in trauma care
  • Providing a program for substance abuse screening and patient intervention
  • Operating as a referral resource for communities in nearby regions

What to do if you need emergency care.

  • Call 911 for potentially life-threatening situations
  • Head to the ER for more serious injuries and illnesses that are not life threatening but require the specially skilled people and equipment found only in emergency rooms
  • When in doubt, call 911 or go to the nearest ER

It can often be difficult to know when to go to the ER, especially when children are involved. Here are some helpful links:

Medical City Healthcare has 7 trauma centers located throughout the DFW area.

Medical City Plano’s Trauma I designation is strongly connected to its burn center, the first and only unit of its kind in Collin County.

Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

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How to Make Prom Night Safe and Injury Free

Prom3-FBYou can be sure that when spring arrives, prom season isn’t far behind. Sparkly gowns, both daring and demure, will be flying off racks as nervous prom date hopefuls try to outdo each other with ever more spectacular promposals. As a parent, you may be concerned about more serious prom night clichés, such as underage drinking, distracted driving and other typical prom-related rituals that can turn the magic night into an episode of ER.

As always, we’ve got you covered with expert advice to help you navigate the teen-infested waters of prom season.

The look.

For many teens, the quest to look their best on prom night begins months before the event. Crash and fad diets, over-exercising, excessive tanning and the crimping, curling and dying of hair and lashes can have lasting medical as well as immediate social consequences.

Here are 6 get-ready-for-prom tips from the CDC:

  • Get in shape slowly and wisely: Eat lots of fruits, veggies whole grains and lean protein, cut back on junk food and sugary drinks and don’t starve yourself
  • Make exercise part of your normal routine: Try to be active for 60 minutes on most days of the week, but avoid beginning a strenuous workout regimen that could derail your prom plans

Gan Su, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Arlington, tells you how to know when to go to the ER with back pain.

  • Get plenty of sleep each night:
    • Teens 15-17 need 8-10 hours
    • Teens 18-19 (and adults up to 64 years old) need 7-9 hours
  • Follow directions on beauty products and test them on a small area of your body to be sure you won’t have an allergic reaction

Dr. Su tells you how to spot an allergic reaction worthy of an ER trip.

  • Wear appropriate, comfortable shoes that you can walk and dance in safely
  • Forego the sun and tanning salon: Too much sun can land you in the ER, dehydrated and with an actual burn — and just a few of those episodes can cause skin cancer later in life

The drive.

More U.S. teens die in motor vehicle crashes than from any other type of injury or accident. In fact, teen drivers are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.  However, there are proven strategies to help teens become better drivers.

The CDC suggests you make young drivers aware of these 8 danger zones and offers tips for reducing their risks:

  • Driver inexperience: Provide at least 30 to 50 hours of supervised driving practice over at least 6 months on a variety of roads, times of day and weather and traffic conditions
  • Driving with teen passengers: Insist that your teens follow the Texas Department of Public Safety Graduated Driver License program, which places restrictions on drivers under the age of 18, including:
    • Who they can drive
    • When they can drive
    • Cell phone/wireless communication device usage

Bypass this prom night concern by having an older sibling, relative or parent drive kids to          and from prom or go in with a group and hire a bus, limo or rideshare service.

  • Nighttime driving: Fatal crashes for drivers of all ages are more likely to happen at night, so insist on a reasonable curfew and practice driving at night when you think teens are ready
  • Seat belts: Buckling up is the simplest way to prevent car crash deaths, yet teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use
  • Distracted driving: It’s known as the new drunk driving and teen drivers 15-19 have the highest percentage of distracted driving fatalities. The worst offender is texting because it requires using your eyes, hands and brain. Could your teens pass our texting and driving pop quiz?

Matt Carrick, MD, Trauma Medical Director of Medical City Plano, talks about the dangers of distracted driving and says the best prevention is to put your phone down while driving.

  • Drowsy driving: Teens should avoid driving during early morning or late night hours when possible
  • Reckless driving: Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and tailgate; the presence of teenage boys increases the likelihood of reckless driving behavior
  • Impaired driving: The number of teens who drink and drive has decreased by 54% since 1991, but even one drink can impair a driver’s judgment and reaction time

If your teens aren’t convinced alcohol will impair their motor skills, try alcohol impairment simulation goggles — Google “drunk goggles.” They’re available in several blood alcohol content (BAC) levels, including low, moderate and high.

See what happened when Medical City Lewisville’s Manager of Trauma Services, Jennifer Turner, BSN, RN, enlisted a volunteer to try drunk goggles.

If your teen is involved in an accident, don’t assume they’re ok just because they have no visible injuries. Dr. Su explains how to know if a headache or head injury should send you to the ER for an evaluation.

If prom night takes an unexpected turn, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.

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How to Prevent Spring Injuries from Sidelining Your Family

Spring-Injuries5-FBMother Nature isn’t the only one who goes a little crazy in the spring. Family life gets a bit more hectic, too. Between the increase in daylight hours, a wide variety of sports and after school activities and a few holiday breaks thrown in for good measure, spring can be a challenging time to keep your family safe and healthy. So stick with us, because we’ve got your bases covered.

Tennis, anyone?

Wrestling, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, track and field, softball and baseball are just some of the activity choices your kids have in spring. Sports promote physical fitness, self-confidence and team-building skills, but each one also comes with its own set of risks.

Every year, more than 2.6 million children end up in emergency rooms with sports-related injuries, including broken bones and torn ligaments, bumps and bruises, concussions, eye injuries, heat-related injuries, scrapes and scratches and sprains and strains.


To help make sure your kids aren’t among those injured, follow these general sports safety tips.

  • Use proper equipment. Equipment and safety gear should be in good condition and approved by the organizations that govern each sport.
  • Inspect practice and competition areas. They should be free of holes, ruts and debris. High-impact sports should be done on forgiving surfaces, such as grass, synthetic rubber or wood, rather than concrete.
  • Insist on qualified adult supervision. The team coach should be trained in first aid and CPR, and all adults should place a high priority on safety.
  • Make sure your child is prepared. In addition to understanding the rules of the game and how to warm up and train, kids need adequate rest, proper nutrition and plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Heat-related illnesses, including dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke, are among the most common sports injuries — especially in hot spots like

When should you take your child to the ER with an orthopedic injury?

Most sports injuries can be treated with RICE — rest, ice, compression and elevation. If an injury affects your child’s basic functioning in any way — he can’t bend his wrist, is limping, or has symptoms of a concussion — administer basic first aid and then see a doctor. For more serious injuries, take your child to the nearest ER.

Corey Gill, MD, Medical Director of the Pediatric Orthopedics Program at Medical City Children’s Hospital, discusses when a child should go to the ER with an orthopedic injury or possible broken bone.

Jump in – the water’s fine.

Swimming and diving are also popular spring sports. Swimming can be a lifelong activity and a great, low-impact way to stay fit. Consider signing your kids up for swimming lessons as soon as appropriate so that they become comfortable around water and know what to do if they get in trouble. Here’s why:

Drowning facts:

  • Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children 1 to 4 years old
  • Most drownings in children 1-4 years old occur in home swimming pools
  • Among children 5-14 years old, accidental death by drowning is second only to motor vehicle crashes
  • Nearly 80% of people who drown are male
  • Drowning (called secondary or dry drowning) can occur up to 24 hours after swimming, so if your child exhibits symptoms such as consistent coughing, chest pain, trouble breathing or extreme fatigue after a day in the water, seek emergency medical treatment right away

Drowning doesn’t look like drowning.

The scary thing is, a person who is truly drowning (as opposed to someone experiencing aquatic distress) doesn’t behave as most of us expect. They are physically unable to move their arms, kick their legs, call for help or participate in their own rescue. Unless saved by a trained rescuer within 20 to 60 seconds, the person will submerge. Sadly, each year about 375 children drown within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. Sadder still, in 10 percent of those cases, an adult will actually see them drown without realizing what is happening.

Click on the image below  to watch an amazing interactive video series and see if you can spot the drowning child. It’s harder than you think.


Put on your drunk goggles.

Spring poses challenges for parents of older teens and college-age kids, too, especially during spring break.

Binge drinking.

Binge drinking is alcohol consumption that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08% or higher. That’s about 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females within a 2-hour period. Talk to your teens and pre-teens about peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and driving under the influence (or riding with someone who is). Here’s what you should know.

  • Binge drinking is most common among young adults aged 18 to 34
  • Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent
  • Binge drinking is twice as high among males as females
  • Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to drive impaired than non-binge drinkers
  • About 90% of the alcohol consumed by people under the age of 21 is in the form of binge drinks

If your teens think a few drinks won’t impair their motor skills, you can purchase alcohol impairment simulation goggles — Google “drunk goggles.” They’re available in several BAC levels, including low, moderate and high.

Here’s what happened when Medical City Lewisville’s Manager of Trauma Services, Jennifer Turner, BSN, RN, recruited a volunteer and had her walk the line wearing the goggles.

Driven to distraction.

While binge drinking escalates during spring break, it can be a problem at any time of year. So can distracted driving, which is being called the new drunk driving because it’s on the rise whereas drunk driving fatalities in Texas have decreased over the last few years.

The worst culprit? Texting, because it requires using your eyes, hands and brain. Could you pass our texting and driving pop quiz?

In the video below, Matt Carrick, MD, Trauma Medical Director of Medical City Plano, talks about the dangers of distracted driving and says the best prevention is to put your phone down while in the car.

If spring injuries sideline your family this year, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.

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Ladder Safety From the Top Down and How to Prevent Falls

Ladder-Safety2-FBAs kids, we climbed things and jumped off of them. We tested our balance, strength, agility and coordination and mostly, we conquered all we surveyed. A broken bone was a minor inconvenience and more importantly, a badge of honor and another campfire story. Then we grew up.

As adults, most of us not only avoid climbing and jumping at all costs, but we actually fear falling and its consequences, among them a possible trip to the emergency room. And with good reason. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older adults. Younger adults are injured frequently from falls, too — off of ladders.

In the U.S., falls from ladders cause:

  • 2,000 injuries and 1 fatality every day
  • 90,000 ER visits every year
    • 45,000 from carrying items up or down ladders

Melanie Leonard, RN, Trauma Program Manager at Medical City North Hills, says that the most common ladder injuries her team sees include:

  • Broken limbs
  • Broken backs
  • Broken pelvises
  • Head injuries

“All of these can be life-threatening and have life-changing results,” she said.

Whether it’s an older adult or a younger person, a bad fall can mean the end of independent living. This is why it’s so important to take ladder safety seriously. Nurse Leonard says there are four major reasons people get hurt on ladders.

4 major ladder missteps that can lead to injuries:

  • Selecting the wrong ladder for the job
  • Using a damaged or worn-out ladder
  • Using a ladder incorrectly
  • Placing a ladder incorrectly

To help you get a handle on these common ladder mistakes, download the Cladder-safety.gifDC’s free, award-winning NIOSH Ladder Safety App.

Nurse Leonard’s tips for general ladder safety:

  • Never climb a ladder when you’re dizzy
  • Always wear close-toed, nonslip shoes — no flip-flops ever!
    • In addition to posing a threat of slipping or foot injuries, wearing flip-flops and other non-supportive shoes while climbing or standing on ladders can cause painful foot problems, such as plantar fasciitis
  • Inspect ladders before use to make sure they’re in good working condition
  • Check your ladder’s weight restrictions and remember to add the weight of any objects you’re carrying
  • Place ladders on firm, level, dry ground
  • One person at a time on ladders, please, and use a spotter to steady the ladder
  • Always have three points of contact on a ladder — 2 feet and 1 hand
  • If you need to place a ladder in front of a door, open the door so that people don’t knock you off (or run into the ladder) when they go through it

For more ladder safety tips, watch Nurse Leonard’s video.

Fall prevention for older adults.

In 2014, 29 million older Americans reported falling. Of those, 7 million reported injuries. As baby boomers age — 10,000 turn 65 every day — the number of senior falls continues to rise. The CDC expects the number of fall-related injuries and deaths to surge as a result.

Here are some tips for older adults to protect themselves from the consequences of falling:

  • Tell your doctor if you have fallen in the past year, feel unsteady on your feet or are concerned about falling
  • Ask your doctor if any of your medications could make you more prone to dizziness or falls
  • Ask your doctor if you need a vitamin D supplement to help prevent muscle weakness and increase bone strength
  • Don’t fall because you can’t see; visit your eye doctor at least once a year and update contacts/eyeglasses as needed
  • Work on your balance and leg strength; consider Tai Chi or yoga, but always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program
  • Keep your home safer by removing tripping hazards

If you or someone in your family takes a tumble, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.

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How to Keep Your Cheerleaders Safe from Falls and Injuries

cheer1-fbAlthough cheerleading wasn’t born in North Texas, it got here as fast as it could. In 1948, a Dallas SMU cheerleader named Lawrence Herkimer held the country’s first summer cheer clinic just north of Houston. There he developed his signature “Herkie” jump, the spirit stick and pom-poms — iconic cheerleading staples still used today. In 1961, he incorporated the National Cheerleaders Association and modern-day cheerleading was launched.

Since then, cheerleading has evolved from a sideline activity to include competitive events where the cheerleaders are the stars. With more than 3.5 million U.S. participants annually, cheerleading is the No. 1 female sport in the nation. But its large numbers of participants and increasing difficulty levels also make it No. 2 in catastrophic sports injuries. Only football ranks higher.

Common cheerleading injuries that can lead to ER visits.

Cheerleaders commonly experience injuries to their feet, ankles and legs. But they are also at risk for concussions and serious neck and back injuries, which can cause permanent disabilities. “Flyers,” the young ladies who are thrown into the air during certain maneuvers, are particularly vulnerable to these types of injuries.

Although cheerleading — especially competitive cheer — requires gymnastic ability, strength and a high degree of fitness, it has only recently been recognized as an official sport. Besides validating cheerleaders everywhere, this means it will now be subject to stricter safety regulations, which is a good thing.

Keeping your cheerleaders safe.

Since most cheerleading injuries happen during practice, it goes without saying that it’s crucial to have the right practice facilities, equipment, training and coaches.

Practice facilities:

  • Spring floors or 4-inch-thick landing mats on top of foam floors are best
  • Never practice on basketball courts or other hard surfaces
  • Practice area should be level, smooth, dry and free of dangerous objects


  • It’s all about the shoes: They should fit properly, have rubber soles and adequate cushioning and support
  • Make a good inVESTment: If your daughter is a flyer, consider a lightweight cheer vest, which may offer some protection from bruising and injuries
  • Safety harnesses can help when learning jumps and other advanced moves


  • Cheerleading is a physically demanding sport, so being fit before cheer season starts will help decrease the chance of injuries
  • Always warm up before practices and cheer events
  • Consider gymnastics or dance classes to help hone skills, build strength and flexibility and boost confidence
  • Prevent overtraining and overuse injuries by taking 2 days off per week for any single sport and 1 day off per week from all organized sports
  • Build on skills by perfecting basic stunts first and adding more complicated moves only when confident enough to do so
  • Make sure spotters are used to practice difficult, dangerous or new stunts


When injuries occur.

In cheerleading, even a slight injury can cause problems if it isn’t treated properly.

  • Any pain or discomfort should not be ignored, but reported to coaches right away
  • “Playing through the pain” can make some injuries more severe and require longer recovery times
    • This is especially true for head injuries and concussions
  • Know what to do in the event of an emergency; for example, should you call your doctor, visit an urgent care center or go straight to the ER?
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders: Cheerleaders, like dancers and gymnasts, are under constant pressure to stay thin and are at increased risk for body image issues, anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders

When a cheer turns into a cry of pain, one of our many Medical City ER emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you.

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