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Department of Health looks to revamp trauma rule

UF Health challenging decision to allow HCA's OPMC to open trauma center

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In the latest move in years of battling about Florida's trauma system, the state Department of Health is looking to change regulations about how many trauma centers are allowed in different regions of the state.

The department has scheduled a Sept. 22 hearing in Tallahassee to discuss a proposed rule to address the issue and, as a result, is seeking a stay in an ongoing legal dispute about trauma centers in Northeast Florida.

The department and parts of the hospital industry have repeatedly become embroiled in battles about whether new trauma centers should be allowed to open.

The state is split into 19 "trauma service areas," and a key part of the debate has focused on how many trauma centers should be allowed in each area.

The debate also has been driven, at least in part, by the hospital chain HCA's attempts to open trauma centers.

Those attempts have drawn opposition from hospitals that already operate such centers.

In the Northeast Florida case, UF Health Jacksonville is challenging a decision by the Department of Health to allow HCA's Orange Park Medical Center to open a trauma center.

The Department of Health on Tuesday filed a document giving notice of the proposed rulemaking process and asking an administrative law judge to hold a hearing to consider granting a stay in the case.