Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
FILE - Gov. Gary R. Herbert shakes hands with Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay, prior to his State of the State address at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017.

SALT LAKE CITY — The House Health and Human Services Committee on Friday approved a resolution requesting that the state organize a network of hospitals and providers "to recommend methodology, standards and guidelines to reduce morbidity, mortality, and the cost of injury and illness to pediatric patients in Utah."

State law already technically calls for such a network, but there isn't one in place, said SJR6 sponsor Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay.

The purpose of the Pediatric Trauma Quality Assurance Network, Iwamoto said, is "to ensure that every child and youth injured in the state of Utah receives the most appropriate care at the right place and the right time."

Dr. Steven Fenton, a pediatric surgeon and the trauma medical director at Primary Children's Hospital, spoke in favor of the resolution, saying it could help ensure a comprehensive, cooperative approach among hospitals and clinics statewide in establishing a strategy to "get the right patient to the right place and at the right time."

Fenton noted that an analysis of cases from 2003 to 2013 found that 27 percent of Primary Children's Hospital patients "could have probably been cared for at the referring facility."

He said the Pediatric Trauma Quality Assurance Network would meet to establish well-understood guidelines as to when a local provider should keep a child patient, when to send them to a specified hospital within their region of the state, and when it is imperative to send them to Primary Children's Hospital.

Doing so could improve outcomes "across the network, not just at pediatric trauma centers, by developing network-wide care pathways," Fenton said.

"The purpose of the network is to strengthen the system as a whole. We don't want to just avoid unnecessary transfers. We want to provide tools and aspects to the providers … at the frontlines of medicine out in the rural communities … and make sure they can provide for that child and make sure their outcomes are the best," Fenton said.

Rep. Edward Redd, R-Logan, thanked Iwamoto for pursuing the resolution, saying he's confident it could "not just control costs, but actually improve outcomes."

The committee recommended the resolution to the House floor by a unanimous vote. The measure passed the Senate last week by a 24 -5 tally.

Recognizing post-traumatic stress

Also Friday, the same committee unanimously recommended SJR7, which designates June 2018 as Utah Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Month, in addition to designation June 27 of this year as an awareness day by the same name.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Peter Knudson, R-Brigham City, told the committee it was designed to bring attention to a medical malady that is widespread in Utah "especially among our returning veterans who have been out in battle."

With the resolution, Knudson said, "we're asking the public to become aware and show a thankfulness and gratitude to these returning soldiers."

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The measure implores the state Department of Health and Department of Veterans and Military Affairs "to continue working to educate victims of interpersonal violence, combat and life-threatening accidents or natural disasters, their families, and the citizens of Utah regarding the causes, symptoms, and treatment of post-traumatic stress injury."

The resolution also states that post-traumatic stress injury "is a very common injury to the brain that is treatable and repairable," but also that the condition, particularly when referred to as a disorder, adds a "stigma (that) can discourage the injured from seeking proper and timely medical treatment."

The measure, which was passed by the Senate last week by a 26-3 vote, will be referred to the full House of Representatives.