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LG Health Physicians

Trauma & Acute
Care Surgery

Trauma & Acute Care Surgery > Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is a trauma?

A trauma is any kind of accidental or intentional injury that may occur to an individual. Many of the relatively minor traumas can be managed as an outpatient, either at Urgent Care or at the Emergency Department. The more severe injuries, such as car accidents, gunshot wounds, stabbings etc., would be managed primarily by the Trauma Service.


How long will I stay?

Your stay at the Trauma Service can vary, depending on the severity of your injuries. Many times, patients are admitted to the Trauma Service for observation because of potentially life-threatening injuries. Sometimes, after 24-48 hours, the issue may be resolved so that the patient can be safely discharged. Other patients come in with severe life-threatening or even limb-threatening injuries that may require a prolonged hospitalization, either on the medical/surgical floor or in the Intensive Care Unit.


What is the trauma bay?

The trauma bay is a specific part of the Emergency Department that has been designated for resuscitation of a major trauma victim. If you or your loved one is seriously injured, your care at the hospital will begin in the trauma bay because all the equipment and personnel are immediately available to provide life-saving care.


What is the difference between the ICU and medical/surgical unit?

ICU stands for Intensive Care Unit. This is where our sickest patients go. In this unit each patient has his/her own personal nurse, who has specialized training. We also use a lot of advanced monitoring techniques to ensure the safety and stability of our patients. The medical surgical unit refers to the wings that provide less intense care. Patients whose conditions have stabilized and are approaching the rehab phase of care would be placed on the medical/surgical floor.


What is the process of my stay?

Most patients who are cared for by the Trauma Service come in via the Emergency Department and will be seen in the trauma bay of the ED. From there, depending on the nature of their injuries, they may either go directly to the operating room, the Intensive Care Unit, or the medical/surgical unit. Many patients will require a period of time in the Intensive Care Unit for close observation and monitoring, and then will be moved to the medical/surgical unit before being discharged home or to a rehabilitation center.


Where will I go when discharged?

When you are discharged you will go to one of three places. Most commonly, our patients return home. Some patients are discharged to an extended care facility. Other patients may require a brief period of rehabilitation. Lancaster General Hospital is associated with its own rehabilitation center, Lancaster Rehabilitation Hospital.


Who will care for me?

While in the hospital, you will be cared for by a number of people. 

  • Trauma Surgeons
  • Advanced Practitioners
  • Case Managers

While in the Emergency Department, the trauma surgeons are frequently assisted by emergency medicine physicians who have a special background in trauma care and are helpful in managing specific aspects of your injuries.


We also have several subspecialty services that are frequently asked to consult for specific injuries. 

For more information:

Meet the Trauma Team
Lancaster Emergency Associates


If my child is injured, where will he go?

We are not a pediatric trauma center; however, we will care for specific types of pediatric injuries that are not multi-system and will not require a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

  • Concussions
  • Isolated orthopedic injuries (such as broken bones/fractures) 

Severe life or limb-threatening injuries or potentially life or limb-threatening injuries are transferred to a specialized Pediatric Trauma Center. The most frequent institution that we transfer our pediatric patients to is Hershey Medical Center, which is a Level I pediatric trauma center. We will also occasionally transfer patients to other pediatric trauma centers in the immediate area. 


Am I allowed to visit my loved one?

Families are encouraged to visit their loved ones while they are in the hospital. There are specific visiting hours for patients in the ICU, which also includes a period of time for patients to rest, when guests are asked not to visit. 

ICU visiting hours: anytime except 7-8:30 a.m. and 7-8:30 p.m.  

Medical/Surgical Unit visiting hours vary from unit to unit. Call (717) 544-5511 for the visiting hours of a particular floor.

We strongly believe that family involvement in the care of an injured loved one does make a difference in the ultimate outcome for that patient. You should expect to be in communication with the physician and/or the nurses at least on a daily basis to update you on how your loved one is doing and what the plans are for his/her care. 


Who do I talk to if I want to find out the condition of my loved one?

Most of the time, the bedside nurse will have the most up-to-date and accurate information on your loved one’s condition. The trauma surgeon or the advanced practitioner will be able to communicate specific aspects of the surgical or trauma care that’s involved. 


What does Level II mean?

There are specific levels of trauma centers within the Pennsylvania State Trauma Foundation’s accreditation. 

  • Level I - highest level of trauma center. This is usually a specialized care medical center that is associated with an academic medical school. It has a surgical residency program and is actively involved in research.
  • Level II - trauma center that has all the care capabilities of a Level I trauma center, but may be in a slightly smaller hospital that does not have a residency program and does not necessarily actively participate in research. 
  • Level III - trauma center that is more of a community hospital than a trauma center, which does not necessarily have an active trauma service. 
  • Level IV - trauma center that designates some of the very small rural hospitals. 


Should I transfer to a Level I trauma center?

If your loved one is admitted to our trauma center, we are fully capable of managing their injuries. If there is any question about our ability to care for these injuries, or if we do not have the resources that a Level I trauma center would have, we would not hesitate to make arrangements for your loved one to be transferred to a Level I trauma center. 


In some respects, your loved one receives more individual attention and resources are more readily available at our Level II trauma center as opposed to a very busy Level I trauma center. 


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