Categorization is a voluntary process of assessing and categorizing the relative preparedness and capabilities of hospitals emergency departments (EDs) and Free-Standing/Hospital Satellite EDs (FSEDs/HSEDs) and their medical staffs, to provide emergency medical care and associated health care services, for patients with diverse types of medical and surgical emergencies. This concept was first proposed in 1966 by the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council in its report, "Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society," as a mechanism for matching critically ill or injured patients with the appropriate health care facilities.
Hospitals EDs and FSEDs/HSEDs are not equal in size, capability, or commitment. Categorization serves as a guideline to better understand facility capabilities and allow triage of patients to health care institutions with EDs fully capable of initial stabilization and treatment of emergent medical conditions. This is done through an objective and voluntary facility evaluation process. The result of the process is the Categorization Matrix which is utilized as a guideline for the field triage of patients. The Categorization Matrix is NOT intended to be all-inclusive. It is understood that all EDs should be able to initially evaluate and stabilize patients with emergency medical conditions. Whenever there is an EMS concern as to the appropriate destination for a given patient, on-line medical direction should be obtained.
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A great deal of time and effort has been committed to the development of the Central Arizona Region’s Categorization Guidelines and Matrix. The resource information cited in this Categorization Matrix is compiled by Arizona Emergency Medical Systems, Inc. (AEMS) with the assistance of hospitals and FSEDs/HSEDs that self-categorize by voluntarily completing the Categorization Questionnaire. Additionally, AEMS relies on information, experience, expertise, and the source documents of various health organizations including, but not limited to: Arizona Department of Health Services (AzDHS), Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System (BEMSTS), State Trauma Advisory Board (STAB), Arizona Stroke Initiative, Phoenix Stroke Center Workgroup, Save Hearts in Arizona Registry & Education (SHARE), American Burn Association, Arizona Perinatal Trust, the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the University of Arizona Office of Rural Health.
It is highly desirable that health care institutions that are successfully categorized through this process participate in AEMS via active membership, dues payment, committee involvement and annual participation in AEMS Odyssey conference planning.
On behalf of AEMS, we would like to thank those committee members who worked diligently to ensure the guidelines most appropriately reflected the needs of the Central Arizona Region. Lastly, a special thanks to all the hospitals and FSEDs/HSEDs that participate in this voluntary process. Your participation enhances emergency medical care for the Central Arizona Region.