ACS-military partnership is improving trauma care education, practices, research

M. Margaret Knudson, MD, FACS
M. Margaret Knudson, MD, FACS

In 2014, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) formed a partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense Military Health System (MHS) to collaborate on a number of issues related to trauma and surgical care. The partnership is known as the Military Health System Strategic Partnership American College of Surgeons (MHSSPACS).

Over the last five years, the partnership has made significant strides toward its goal of improving educational opportunities, systems-based practices, and research capabilities in surgery, according to M. Margaret Knudson, MD, FACS, MHSSPACS medical director and professor of surgery, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

Dr. Knudson will provide an update on MHSSPACS initiatives and accomplishments and will discuss the benefits of the partnership during Tuesday afternoon’s Scudder Oration on Trauma, A Perfect Storm.

“This strategic partnership was timely, as the decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were winding down and there was recognition by the Department of Defense, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, as well as by the ACS that the important lessons learned in combat casualty care should be preserved for the benefit of both the civilian and military trauma communities,” Dr. Knudson said. “Importantly, for the first time in history, the Defense Health Agency under the Secretary of Defense is now mandated by legislation to formalize a military Joint Trauma System that unites the Army, Navy, and Air Force Medical Corps and will remain active even during interwar and relatively peaceful periods.”

The overarching focus of the MHSSPACS, Dr. Knudson said, is to act as a “clinical readiness program” consisting of four elements—the military trauma system, military-civilian partnerships for training and sustainment, periodic assessment of readiness knowledge points and surgical skills, and a continuous-learning trauma system informed by research.

“While the benefit of the program to the Military Health System can be readily recognized, equally important is the mutual benefit it brings to the civilian community of surgeons,” Dr. Knudson said. “Among those benefits is the expansion of the United States trauma system to include areas of the country not currently served by major trauma centers.”

The two-way knowledge exchange between military and civilian trauma teams the partnership has fostered has enhanced responses to disasters and mass casualty events and has provided a method of ensuring that both military and civilian trauma surgeons are kept current in knowledge points and skill sets, she added.

“The partnership has also led to the expansion of ACS Quality Programs to the over 9 million people covered under the Military Health System, thus assisting in keeping a large population of people healthy and, importantly, contributing to our national security by assuring readiness,” Dr. Knudson said. “Important changes can only occur when there’s a convergence of people, policy, and opportunity, and this strategic partnership is a great example of that.”

The Scudder Oration on Trauma Lecture honors Charles Locke Scudder, a founding member of the ACS and a major contributor to the surgery of trauma.

Scudder Oration on Trauma

A Perfect Storm
M. Margaret Knudson, MD, FACS
12:45–1:30 pm, Tuesday
Moscone Center West, Ballroom