May 12, 2017

Duckworth Helps Introduce Legislation to Boost Trauma Care in Civilian Hospitals by Hiring Active Duty Military


WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) in introducing bipartisan legislation to improve trauma responses at hospitals across the nation and address variations in the quality of care by hiring additional experienced military surgeons. Their Military Injury Surgical Systems Integrated Operationally Nationwide to Achieve ZERO Preventable Deaths Act, or MISSION ZERO Act, would provide grants to civilian hospitals to hire active duty military trauma surgeons to help fill a gap in care identified by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

"I learned a lot about the trauma care and treatment available in the military system while recovering at Walter Reed," said Senator Duckworth. "But not every American has access to the same resources, techniques and expertise in the civilian trauma care system. This legislation would improve trauma care in civilian hospitals while giving military medical professionals more opportunities to use their invaluable skills and expertise."

"Acute care at trauma centers nationwide will greatly benefit from increased access to the highly qualified, can-do medical professionals in our military," said Isakson, who serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "Integrating our nation's best trauma centers with military doctors who regularly operate in high-pressure situations will greatly benefit Americans."

Trauma is currently the third leading cause of death in the United States-first among those 45 and under. In 2013, trauma's economic burden was over $671 billion, making it one of the most expensive health care problems in the country, and there may be different standards and options for care depending on where you live.

Currently, trauma care in the United States is a patchwork of regional systems and incomplete data registries. Mortality and disability in traumatic injury can be greatly reduced by placing military doctors alongside civilian doctors between periods of active combat.

The MISSION ZERO Act is endorsed by the American Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Trauma Care Association of America, American College of Emergency Physicians, and the American College of Surgeons.

The legislation would also create the Military and Civilian Partnership for Trauma Readiness Grant Program, which would develop two grant programs. Recipients of each must also allow providers to be deployed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for military operations, training or in response to a mass casualty incident.

  • Grants awarded to at most 20 eligible high acuity trauma centers to allow military trauma teams to provide full-time trauma care and related acute care at such centers:
  • Grant shall be for between three and five fiscal years, and may be renewed; and
  • Grant shall be no more than $1 million.
  • Grants awarded to eligible trauma centers to allow military trauma care providers to provide trauma care and related acute care at such centers:
  • Grant shall be for a period of between one and three years; and
  • Grant shall not exceed $100,000 for each military trauma physician, and not exceed $50,000 for each other trauma care provider.

Additionally, recipient trauma centers would report to the secretaries of U.S. Health and Human Services and DoD on relevant grant information, including number of cases, financial impact, educational impact, research conducted and other information. In turn, the secretaries would report to Congress every two years regarding the effectiveness of this program.

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Michael Burgess (R-TX), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Gene Green, (D-TX), Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC).