Trauma Care

Our specialists are the only ones in the region who can treat the most complex traumatic injuries

nurse and infant

Lifesaving, 24/7 critical care for survival and recovery.

Level 1 Care

The adult and pediatric trauma center at Harborview Medical Center is the only center in Washington state for level 1 care—the highest level of comprehensive care for major injuries.

Serious Injury Treatment

Car crashes, third-degree burns, fractured bones, serious wounds — we provide lifesaving treatment, functional rehabilitation and cosmetic results for all critical injuries.

Expert, Specialized Staff

To increase a patient’s chances for survival and recovery, we deploy doctors, nurses and therapists from 30-plus medical specialties to coordinate injury-specific care.

Some of our common services:

Pain management is an important aspect of trauma care. Pain from a traumatic injury can cause severe complications that slow recovery and impair health. Our pain medicine and anesthesia specialists work closely with the trauma care team to diagnose pain, set goals and design an appropriate pain management plan.

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Major burns can lead to infection, shock and even death. Patients who receive care at our verified burn center (the only verified center in Washington state) have access to multidisciplinary care coordination that achieves both functional recovery—including physical, occupational and speech therapy rehabilitation — and cosmetic results. With this approach, plus ongoing clinical and product research by our burn experts, the survival rate for patients treated at our burn center is over 97 percent.

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Our cardiothoracic surgeons specialize in diagnosing and treating patients who have suffered traumatic injuries to their heart and chest, including the lungs, airway, esophagus and chest wall.

Heart Institute

Lung Care

In addition to trauma care, patients receive rapid evaluation and triage by emergency medicine physicians who then refer out to specialists across 30 medical services. These specialists — in general surgery, orthopedics, neurology, neurosurgery and more — provide definitive care for the non-traumatic conditions that may have resulted from injuries including broken bones, heart attacks, strokes and first- and second-degree burns.

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When a patient is brought to our trauma center, general surgeons are responsible for the overall management of a multi-system trauma patient. They may also be required to operate to control life-threatening bleeding. Once the diagnosis is made, the general surgeon will coordinate with the appropriate specialists for treatment and to manage (and potentially surgically repair) individual injuries the patient may have suffered.

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) is an adjunctive treatment in which the patient breathes 100% oxygen while enclosed in a pressurized chamber at greater than normal atmospheric pressure. While breathing pure oxygen, the patient’s blood plasma becomes saturated and carries 15 to 20 times the normal amount of oxygen to the body’s tissues. As a result, the body’s natural wound-healing mechanisms, which are oxygen dependent, are able to function more efficiently. Approximately 16% of wound care patients may be eligible for HBOT. HBOT can be used to treat the following: 

•Soft tissue radionecrosis
•Preservation of compromised skin grafts and flaps
•Chronic refractory osteomyelitis
•Diabetic ulcers of the lower extremities
•Crush injuries/acute traumatic peripheral ischemia
•Progressive necrotizing infections/fasciitis
•Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency

Our neurological surgeons specialize in diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating patients who have suffered traumatic injuries to the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. The neurological surgeons also help manage the pain associated with injuries.

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Severe eye injury can cause loss of vision. Our ophthalmology specialists are skilled physicians who diagnose and treat trauma to the eye and its structures, including the surrounding tissues, the orbit and the visual pathway to the brain.

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Our orthopedic surgeons specialize in diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating patients who have suffered traumatic injuries to joints, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. The orthopedic surgery team also manages the patient's care for spinal column injuries.

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Our otolaryngologist surgeons provide diagnosis and treatment for patients who have suffered injuries to their ear, nose, throat and other structures of the head and neck. They are also skilled in plastic and reconstructive surgery for facial fractures.

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Inform yourself to make the best choices for your health and care with UW Medicine patient education resources.

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Emotional support is an important part of your treatment. Support groups and community resources can help you and your loved ones through treatment and recovery.

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Critical care for severely injured children requires comprehensive pediatric services. Our Level 1 trauma center is staffed by doctors and surgeons skilled in treating children of all ages. We also offer a support team of nurses, social workers and psychologists that help children and their families through the care and recovery process.

Our trauma center’s plastic surgeons specialize at repairing and reconstructing the head, face, neck, hands and limbs after serious injury. They are skilled in soft tissue repair, neural surgery and microvascular surgery for joining or repairing the damaged blood vessels and nerves during reconstructive surgery of body parts.

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A traumatic experience can affect a patient’s mental and emotional well-being. This can complicate the patient’s functioning, treatment and recovery. Psychiatric care plays a critical role in treating trauma patients. Our trauma surgeons routinely incorporate a psychiatrist into their care teams to diagnose and treat psychological disorders.

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U.S. News & World Report recognizes University of Washington Medical Center’s rehabilitation program – where we treat a full spectrum of injuries, including major traumas – among the top in the nation. Our rehabilitation specialists offer new and long-established rehabilitation therapies to help trauma patients recover as best as possible from their injuries.

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Physical therapists provide hands-on treatment focused on restoring mobility and function if it's been compromised as the result of injury, disease, overuse, pain or loss of a body part. Our skilled physical therapists develop individualized care plans based on the latest technologies and long-established therapies.

Occupational therapists help people of all ages participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Occupational therapy services may include evaluations of a client’s home or workplace; assessment of independence with activities of daily living; recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use; and education for patients, family and caregivers.

Speech language pathologists (SLP) specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of problems involving speech, language, thinking and swallowing. Language disorders occur when a person has trouble understanding others or sharing their thoughts and ideas. Speech disorders occur when a person has difficulty producing speech sounds. Cognitive-communication disorders include problems organizing thoughts, paying attention, planning and/or problem-solving.

Our neuro-rehabilitation program provides comprehensive outpatient treatment services for people, ages 17 and older, with various neurologic conditions including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, stroke, tumor and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Services include speech language therapy for improving communication, memory, attention, swallow dysfunction, voice disorders and other cognitive skills, and occupational therapy and physical therapy for improving independent daily tasks like meal preparation, household management, balance, ambulation, dizziness, flexibility, strength, fall prevention, and wheelchair seating and evaluations.

An injury to an artery or a vein can involve a tear, puncture or damage from crushing or twisting. Vascular trauma can cause a blood vessel to clot and interrupt blood flow to an organ or extremity, or cause bleeding that can lead to life-threatening hemorrhage. Our trauma center’s vascular surgeons are skilled at diagnosing and treating patients who have suffered traumatic injuries to their arteries, veins and lymphatic system.

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