Judge backs plan for pediatric trauma center

By News Service of Florida
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An administrative law judge said Tuesday that the Florida Department of Health should approve a proposal to open a pediatric trauma center at Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville.

The ruling by Judge R. Bruce McKibben came after Wolfson challenged a decision by the Department of Health to reject the proposed trauma center.

Under administrative law, McKibben's ruling is a recommended order that will go back to the department for a final decision.

If the proposal is ultimately approved, Wolfson would operate the only pediatric trauma center in Northeast Florida.

McKibben's ruling said pediatric trauma patients in the region currently are taken to trauma centers at UF Health Jacksonville or UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville and then can be moved to Wolfson after stabilization.

“It is Wolfson's desire to operate its own pediatric trauma center, thereby obviating the need for a trauma patient to first go to UF Health Jacksonville or Shands before being transferred,” McKibben wrote. “There are times when a delay in transfer can have negative consequences for the patient. The number of such occurrences was not quantified by Wolfson, but Wolfson considers it a significant problem.”

The Department of Health must approve the opening of trauma centers and cited deficiencies in the Wolfson application.

The administrative case focused on one issue in the application, but McKibben concluded that the application was complete.

News Service of Florida