Trauma Program Patient Guide

If you or a loved one has a life-threatening injury that sends you to our trauma center, we are here to help. Knowing what to expect is the first step. This short guide walks you through a patient's journey through our trauma center.

What Happens Before You're Admitted to the Trauma Program

We take steps so we're ready for you the minute you arrive. Learn what's happening while you're on the way to our hospital.

Emergency Medical Services alerts us that they are heading to the hospital with a trauma patient.

We alert the trauma team on duty. The trauma team includes a range of healthcare professionals, such as:

  • Surgeons
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Trauma nurses
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Radiology technicians 
  • Blood bank technicians

A technician places a CT scanner on hold. It is now ready and waiting to diagnose the incoming patient quickly.

Operating room (OR) staff holds and readies an OR. The room is prepared for fast action once the patient arrives.

The trauma team alerts our care units and nursing administration about the incoming trauma so that a bed or room is ready for recovery.

Arrival at the Hospital: Emergency Room and Resuscitation

Patients arrive at the emergency room (ER) by ambulance or helicopter. Most patients are resuscitated in the ER before high-speed elevators take them to the operating room, the intensive care unit or to inpatient ward care.

The trauma team evaluates the patient and begins treatment, calling in other specialists as needed.

During the initial resuscitation, social workers offer the patient's family crisis intervention support. This assistance continues throughout the patient's hospitalization.

Inside the Operating Room (OR)

We transport the patient from the resuscitation room to our fully equipped operating room. At Cedars-Sinai, we always keep an OR available to treat patients with traumatic injuries.

Our specialists perform a wide range of surgeries, supported by trauma anesthesiologists and operating room nurses.

Surgical Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

We admit patients with severe injuries to the ICU. Trauma surgeons and the ICU team continue the patient's care, which may include physical rehabilitation. The ICU team includes:

  • Surgeons trained in surgical critical care
  • Surgical residents and fellows
  • ICU nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Nutritionists

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

Young patients (from infants to 15 years old) are admitted to our PICU. The PICU is an eight-bed, self-contained unit with a dedicated medical director and clinical nurse coordinator. The compassionate PICU team provides expert, child-focused care for infants, children and teenagers with traumatic injuries.

A board-certified pediatric specialist (intensivist) is available 24/7 to answer questions and help with treatment. The intensivist makes daily rounds with the PICU team and the trauma team members, keeping everyone on the same page and the lines of communication open.

After Stabilization

When the patient is stable and no longer needs critical care, we arrange a transfer to a surgical ward, such as:

  • General surgery
  • Neurosurgery 
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Spine surgery

Together, case managers, social workers, trauma surgeons and the patient and family plan the next phase of care.

Physical Rehabilitation

Our rehabilitation department provides both acute care inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation (rehab). Our specialists include:

  • Neuropsychologists 
  • Occupational therapists 
  • Physical therapists
  • Speech therapists

Early rehab intervention in the ICU helps patients return to their optimal levels of function. The rehab team assesses the patient's ability to move, speak, think and perform basic tasks. Depending on what the patient needs, we help them:

  • Regain muscle control
  • Improve speech, breathing and swallowing 
  • Relearn daily activities
  • Prepare for lifestyle and job changes
  • Stay supported as they return to home and work environments

After Discharge

After patients leave the hospital, they continue to receive ongoing care through outpatient clinics at Cedars-Sinai. These clinics allow patients to continue working with the doctors they know and who are familiar with their history. Outpatient clinic visits may include:

  • Follow-up clinic visits for trauma care
  • Wound care 
  • Drug monitoring
  • Rehabilitation

Family Support

Our social workers provide family support services 24 hours a day. We offer support for:

  • Coping with hospitalization
  • Adjusting to injury
  • Planning for discharge
  • Transitioning home
  • Settling into the home environment

Have Questions or Need Help?

For more information, call the Trauma Program care team. You can also have us call you back at your convenience.

Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Pacific Time (U.S.)
Available 24 hours a day

(1-800-233-2771)