Level 1 Trauma: There’s a Difference and It Matters

Trauma Center Celebrates Four Decades as Northern Virginia’s only Level 1 program

In life’s most critical moments — after a devastating car crash, fall, injury or act of violence — access to round-the-clock treatment by a team specially trained in trauma care can mean the difference between life and death.

Inova Trauma Center – Fairfax has been that critical resource for Northern Virginia for the past 37 years. Since 1983, Inova Fairfax Hospital has served as Northern Virginia’s only Level 1 trauma center – meaning it provides the highest level of care by trauma surgeons and constant access to specialty surgeons and nurses trained in trauma medicine. The Level 1 designation, which also recognizes the center’s research contributions, life-sustaining equipment, robust survivor support network and other vital resources, undergoes a rigorous review process and recertification, which is conducted every three years by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The recent milestone of 37 years doesn’t merely represent a milestone for the Trauma Center, according to Margaret “Maggie” Griffen, MD. It’s also a chance to reflect on the tens of thousands of patients whose lives have been saved or their quality of life enhanced after horrific twists of fate over the last four decades. In lesser hands, these patients — from Fairfax and surrounding counties, as well as West Virginia and Maryland — might very well have experienced a different outcome, she says.

“If you find yourself in a situation where you need immediate care for life-threatening injuries, you want a trauma center that can provide whatever resources you may need,” Dr. Griffen says. “Not every hospital would have a trauma surgeon waiting there for you, as well as ICU and nursing teams specifically trained to care for trauma patients. There is a lot that separates us from others, as the only Level 1. Our physicians and nurse teams care for the patient from the moment they arrive through rehabilitation. And we are closing in on 40 years of experience doing this.” 

Looking to the Future 
Our local emergency medical service providers and other first responders also benefit from having the highest-rated trauma center in the area at their disposal at critical moments.

“They know we’ve got their backs when they get to a situation or scene where a patient is critically injured,” Dr. Griffen explains, adding that Inova also collaborates on EMS education programs. “They do their incredible work, and do it well, and then get patients to us as quickly as they can in the best possible shape. As a team, we are an extension of what EMS has begun, and we continue the care of the patient to achieve a successful outcome.”

Participating in trauma research, injury prevention, education and outreach is required by the Commonwealth to be designated as a Level 1 trauma center. The comprehensive Inova Trauma Program includes the Trauma Survivors Network, which helps patients and caregivers live life after trauma and get the ongoing help that they need.

Inova Trauma Center – Fairfax, the only Level 1 center in Northern Virginia, provides the highest level of trauma care and experts available for every aspect of injury from prevention through rehabilitation.

Fairfax Location
3300 Gallows Road, Original Building, 2nd floor, Falls Church, VA 22042, (703) 776-2274


  1. April on January 31, 2020 at 11:29 pm

    This is where I started my career in healthcare. Would not trade the knowledge and experience I gained there for anything.

  2. Margaret on February 18, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    Margaret’s R Us
    So proud of you and looking forward to this weekend!

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