The commotion generated by the dismissal of three doctors at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center deflects public attention from what should be the overriding concern: the quality of emergency medical service in Maryland. We can no longer rest on our laurels of a decade ago, when the shock trauma system here was heralded as the nation's best. The system needs improvement if it is to keep up with advances in handling shock-trauma cases.
Without question, Dr. Kimble I. Maull, the new director of shock-trauma center and the statewide emergency medical system, handled the dismissals badly. His abrupt action caught political leaders by surprise and created a furor within the shock-trauma network. Yet while Dr. Maull may need a refresher course in bedside manners, he is entitled to make personnel changes he deems appropriate and to bring in a team of specialists of his choosing. That's what founder Dr. R Adams Cowley did -- and won international acclaim for his efforts.
Dr. Maull was hired to make changes. He was able in just a few months to end a long-running dispute between the center and University of Maryland Hospital over treating badly injured trauma patients from West Baltimore. In the past, the hospital ran its own trauma center in the same building. That was a costly duplication of effort. Now there is only one trauma center, with Dr. Maull's much larger unit handling all badly injured patients. That's a common-sense solution that had eluded other medical leaders in the past.