Trauma and Acute Care | Emergency Care

Emergency Care

Trauma Care

UC Davis Medical Center is the only level 1 trauma center in California north of San Francisco. We offer around-the-clock pediatric and adult care for any serious injury.

Medically reviewed on June 26, 2023.

Emergency providers tending to a patient in a hospital room

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is a type of severe injury requiring immediate care. It can affect any area of your body, including your extremities, soft tissue, blood vessels, brain or other organs.

As a level 1 trauma center, UC Davis Medical Center can treat the most complex traumatic injuries. We offer expertise and resources that draw people from Northern California, western Nevada and southern Oregon. The volume of patients we treat and high-quality care we deliver makes us one of the nation’s busiest trauma centers.


Call 911 in an Emergency

If you or a loved one is having a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room (ER). Learn more about our emergency department

On this page

Traumatic Injury Symptoms

Trauma can cause a variety of symptoms across your body. The symptoms you experience depend on the type and severity of your injury.

Emergency Symptoms

While most traumatic injuries need urgent care, the following symptoms are especially serious:

  • Bleeding that won’t stop
  • Burn covering a large area or that results in missing skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Overwhelming pain
  • Shock, which is the result of not having sufficient blood flow

Causes of Trauma

Trauma is often due to accidents and other unplanned events that cause severe injuries.


An assault is a physical attack from another person, such as a stabbing or gunfire.

Blunt Force

Blunt force injuries are the result of a forceful impact with a firm object. These injuries may happen due to intentional assaults or due to accidents, like a bad fall.


We treat burns due to fire, sun exposure, contact with harsh chemicals, electric shock or radiation.

Motor Vehicle Crashes

This type of accident involves motorcycles, cars, boats or off-road vehicles that collide with a person, another vehicle or object.


Diagnosing Traumatic Injuries

At UC Davis Medical Center, we perform a rapid assessment to determine the type and extent of your injuries. Trauma surgeons with advanced training guide your care. We use state-of-the-art technology to give you a prompt, accurate diagnosis.

We start by checking your airway and breathing, then perform a head-to-toe evaluation. If we suspect internal injuries, you undergo imaging tests like an X-ray or CT scan. We may also perform blood work to check for medical issues, like electrolyte imbalances or liver damage.

Trauma Treatments at UC Davis Health

Our compassionate doctors and nurses are on standby 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We deliver comprehensive trauma care, including therapies that address your immediate medical needs and services that optimize recovery.

You have timely access to any medical or surgical subspecialty you may need. Our extended team includes experts in anesthesiology, radiology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, neurosurgery, critical care medicine, orthopaedics and more.

Our team maintains exceptional outcomes and low complication rates, giving you the best chances for healing.

Trauma Surgery

We perform emergency surgery to repair or reconstruct injured organs and bones. In some cases, we first perform diagnostic procedures to determine the extent of your injury.

Meet our trauma surgeons
Burn Care

UC Davis Medical Center is home to the region’s largest burn center and includes a newly renovated facility. Special amenities like an advanced ventilation system deliver a steady stream of clean air to lower risks of airborne infection.

Explore the Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center
Intensive Care

Many patients start their recovery in our intensive care units. We deliver pain medications, provide ongoing monitoring and offer additional therapies that help you achieve your treatment goals.

Get information about our intensive care units
Life Support

If trauma causes an organ to stop working, we deliver therapies to support functioning while your body heals. You may need a breathing machine, tube feeding, kidney dialysis or other therapies.


As you feel better, specialized therapies help advance your recovery and cope with changes in your abilities. We offer inpatient services in the Sacramento region’s first rehabilitation hospital. We also offer outpatient rehabilitation at clinics in other locations.

Visit our Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Preventing Traumatic Injuries

It’s not always possible to prevent trauma. Many severe injuries are due to circumstances beyond your control.

But there are steps you can take to lower your likelihood of getting traumatic injuries. These include following the rules of the road, following gun safety practices and avoiding dangerous activities.

Number of emergency department visits

359KIn 2020 were due to burn injuries

Number of motor vehicle injuries

5.4MMotor vehicle crash injuries in 2021 required medical attention

Awards and Recognitions
USNWR Best Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best hospital in cancer, cardiology, heart & vascular surgery, diabetes & endocrinology, ENT, geriatrics, neurology & neurosurgery, obstetrics & gynecology, and pulmonology & lung surgery.

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US News & World Report best Children’s Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best children’s hospital in diabetes & endocrinology, nephrology, and orthopedics*. (*Together with Shriners Children’s)

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USNWR best regional hospital badge

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital by U.S. News, and high-performing in COPD, colon cancer surgery, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, hip fracture, hip replacement, kidney failure, leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma, lung cancer surgery, ovarian cancer surgery, pneumonia, prostate cancer surgery, stroke, TAVR, uterine cancer surgery, gastroenterology & GI surgery, and orthopedics.

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Magnet designation badge

The nation’s highest nursing honor

UC Davis Medical Center has received Magnet® recognition, the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence.

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Chime acute badge

“Most Wired” for acute care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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Chime ambulatory badge

“Most Wired” for ambulatory care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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NCI badge

World-class cancer care

One of ~56 U.S. cancer centers designated “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.

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A leader in health care equality

For the 11th consecutive year, UC Davis Medical Center has been recognized as a “Leader in LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality.”

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