Frank L. Mitchell Jr., MD, has devoted his career to improving trauma care throughout the nation. As chair of the American College of Surgeons' Committee on Trauma Center Verification, he led a national campaign to standardize the quality of care for injured patients. Through his leadership, a process was put in place that ensured hospitals met required standards to earn designation as one of the nation's elite Level I trauma centers.
Other advances in trauma care stem directly from Dr. Mitchell's efforts at the University of Missouri. An MU trauma surgeon for more than 40 years, Dr. Mitchell helped define what is now called the golden hour - that period of a few precious minutes when medical intervention can mean the difference between life and death.
In 1968, Dr. Mitchell developed one of Missouri's first ambulance services at MU. At a time when many ambulances were operated by funeral homes, Dr. Mitchell secured a grant to train hospital ambulance drivers and attendants. He worked with MU's School of Engineering to design University Hospital's first ambulance, which became a model for ambulances built throughout the United States.
Twelve years later, Dr. Mitchell initiated a study showing that 40 percent of trauma victims who died from serious injuries might have lived had they received rapid medical intervention. That study, which used highway patrol helicopters to bring patients to University Hospital, led to development of the hospital's own helicopter service. At the same time, the hospital became mid-Missouri's only Level I trauma center by meeting rigorous national standards that Dr. Mitchell helped develop.
In 2002, University of Missouri Health Care celebrated the 20th anniversary of The Staff for Life Helicopter Service by naming the trauma program after Dr. Mitchell. In recognition of Dr. Mitchell's legacy, University Hospital's trauma center has been named the Frank L. Mitchell Jr., MD, Trauma Center.