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Trauma service


The Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) is South Australia’s Quaternary Hospital and Major Complex Poly-Trauma Service providing emergency, trauma and critical care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Key Points

  • The RAH is the sixth busiest and highest acuity trauma service in Australia and New Zealand and the busiest of three designated major trauma services, in the SA Trauma System Governance Framework.
  • We provide care for South Australia’s most severely injured patients forming an integral part of the South Australian Trauma Network (TraumaSA).
  • We provide the full spectrum of clinical services for patients aged ≥16yrs, including SA’s Adult burns service, Spinal unit and Complex pelvic fracture services.

What we do

We treat over 2200 trauma patients per year, with over 500 of those being classified as major traumas. This equates to about 60% of the state’s major trauma cases.

As well as covering most of South Australia, the trauma service is the major trauma referral centre for Alice Springs and regularly acts as the major trauma referral centre for patients from the remainder of the Northern Territory, western Victoria (Mildura) and western New South Wales (Broken Hill).

The Trauma service at the RAH operates as a 24/7 multidisciplinary team which works to provide high-level care to all trauma patients.

The service is staffed by specialists from many different medical and nursing specialities including Surgery, Emergency medicine, Anaesthesia, Intensive care, Trauma nurse consultants, Allied health and many more.


The RAH trauma service includes:

  • an onsite helipad with capacity for two helicopters
  • eight highly equipped emergency resuscitation & trauma bays
  • state of the art emergency department (ED) with up to 70 treatment spaces
  • state-of-the-art ICU with 60 bed capacity
  • a hyperbaric service
  • six emergency operating theatres (Technical suite rooms)
  • South Australia’s Adult burns unit and Spinal injury unit.

The Trauma service team works collaboratively with the Emergency department, managing the initial response to trauma patients in the ED and follow-up care for admitted patients as required.

The Trauma Service takes carriage of the immediate care of all Level 1 and 2 Trauma activation patients who present to the ED and facilitates admission under an appropriate trauma surgery and/or speciality home team that is relevant to their condition.

The RAH’s 7-day Trauma nurse consultant case management team provide outreach support and clinical coordination to major trauma patients & their families throughout their admission.

Outpatient and outreach services are provided by a patient’s home team as required. The Trauma Service has a collaborative referral pathway for Compulsory Third Party Insurance (CTP) eligible patients and their allied health and rehabilitation providers, to ensure smooth transition and comprehensive post-discharge recovery plan.

The Trauma service is committed to quality improvement and has a robust, multi-disciplinary clinical governance and audit system in place. Every trauma patient is reviewed on weekly basis as well as a weekly longitudinal case presentation where one case is discussed in great detail.

At these sessions, there is regular attendance by clinicians from emergency department, radiology, anaesthesia, intensive care, trauma surgery, allied health, MedSTAR (Retrieval Service), SAAS (South Australian Ambulance Service), and surgical sub-specialities. Staff from other LHN’s involved in the initial management of the patient prior to up-transfer are invited to attend and contribute to discussions and learning.


The RAH Trauma service is committed to education and training, showcased by robust education programs, development of the RAH and Statewide Trauma Tuesday’s education programs, utilising face to face and the MS teams platform, presenting at trauma conferences, as well as being trauma course directors, instructors, coordinators and clinical title holders for universities.

Useful Trauma Links

Community partnering and injury prevention

The RAH is committed to partnering with consumers and our community in all aspects of their health care, with the Trauma service focusing on injury surveillance and prevention strategies.

As part of the SA state trauma system, we have an annual injury prevention and community engagement communication plan, plus utilising trauma registry injury data trends and consumer stories to empower communication, education and messaging.

External resources
Support for trauma patients

P.A.R.T.Y Program SA

Our flagship injury prevention community education program is the Prevent Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth Program (P.A.R.T.Y. Program).

The RAH has been the lead site in South Australia for the past eight years and supports the other LHNs (LMH & FMC & Regional) to host this program.

The statewide program coordinator and the statewide administrator role are based at the RAH to centrally lead and coordinate the program.

P.A.R.T.Y is an in-hospital injury awareness and prevention program. This dynamic, interactive injury prevention initiative is designed for young people between the ages of 15-19 years old.

P.A.R.T.Y aims to show students first-hand some of the tragic consequences that can occur if they participate in risk-taking behaviour, as well as the choices they can make to avoid trauma and injury. Students engage with members of the multi-disciplinary team involved in trauma care including medical, nursing, SA ambulance service, Emergency, ICU, DonateLife and Allied Health.

Our Regional and Rural program also incorporates local Country Fire Service Volunteers and SA Police. We also partner with our consumers by way of having Trauma Ambassadors come and share their story about how risk-taking lead to their life changing injuries – this is an integral component of the program and we are thankful for our dedicated team of Trauma Ambassadors.

Learn more about the P.A.R.T.Y program

Trauma service staff and medical student elective information

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