That's important because just one hour can spell the difference between life and death for victims of severe injury. And ordinary emergency rooms may not be able to adequately treat victims with multiple fractures, brain injuries or penetrating wounds to internal organs.
Yet 69 million people had to travel farther to reach a trauma center in 2007 than in 2001. That's the main finding of a study published Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs. For nearly 16 million of those, the added distance increased travel times by 30 minutes or longer.
Hundreds of trauma centers have closed over the past two decades because of financial problems.