House approves trauma system changes

With little discussion, the House on Friday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would change criteria for approval of new trauma centers in the state and help ensure that a disputed trauma center at Orange Park Medical Center in Clay County could continue operating.

The House voted 93-24 to support the measure, sponsored by Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City. Hospitals and the Florida Department of Health in recent years have repeatedly tangled in legal battles about whether new trauma centers should be allowed to open.

The current system limits the number of trauma centers statewide to 44 and also includes limits in 19 different regional "trauma service areas."

Under the bill, trauma service areas with populations of more than 1.25 million people would be determined to have a need for a minimum of two trauma centers. A trauma service area with a population of more than 2.5 million -- currently only an area made up of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties -- would be determined to have a need for a minimum of four trauma centers.

With one week left in the legislative session, the Senate has not taken up the issue.