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No one expects to be in a traumatic accident, yet they’re more common than you might imagine. According to the National Trauma Institute, trauma is the number one cause of death for people age one to 46, even ahead of heart disease and cancer. Care for patients with traumatic injuries, acute surgical emergencies, shock, sepsis, respiratory failure and advanced multi-organ failure require special training and expertise. 

“Surgical Critical Care (SCC) is a specialty that focuses on caring for patients with acute or potentially life-threatening surgical conditions and understanding the relationship between surgical procedures and critical surgical illness,” says Robert Maxwell, M.D., surgical critical care specialist at University Surgical Associates. “The surgical critical care fellowship offered through the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Chattanooga (UTCOM-C), Department of Surgery, offers clinical training that’s focused on cutting-edge, evidence-based experiences in trauma, emergency general surgery and surgical critical care.” 


The SCC fellowship was the first fellowship initiated at UTCOM-C and is one of three such programs offered at the state’s major academic teaching centers and safety net hospitals. The faculty for the training program are all double boarded in SCC and general surgery. They manage patients with various surgical conditions that require recovery in an ICU with various types of life support techniques.  

“Critical care specialists are not only surgeons – they’re also more knowledgeable about the whole patient condition. The surgical care at a Level 1 trauma center like Erlanger, combined with the advanced training of surgical critical care specialists, means you’ll receive the most up-to-date and advanced care available – exactly what you need when you or a family member is critically ill or facing a life-threatening condition,” says Benjamin Dart, M.D., surgical critical care specialist at USA.  

In addition to their advanced training in the diagnosis and management of complex problems in critically ill patients, USA’s surgical critical care specialists conduct research in certain areas such as infection prevention and management of different types of traumatic injuries such as mandibular fractures, pancreatic injuries and vascular trauma.  

What does this mean for you? No matter how carefully you plan, no one knows when an emergency will happen. But if the unexpected occurs, you can have confidence that you’ll receive the very best care available today – the kind of care that you’ve come to expect from University Surgical Associates. 

“As teachers we must stay current on the latest practices, and our academic responsibilities require our team to attend major medical conferences every year to learn about the new technology for critically ill patients. We are dedicated to staying at the top of our field,” says Dr. Maxwell. “We are the only hospital within a 100-mile radius that offers the level of care available at Erlanger Medical Center. Whether it’s trauma, acute care surgery or highly skilled post-surgical care, we are trained and ready to address the most difficult cases in our region.” 


USA’s surgical critical care capabilities are unmatched in this region, providing care for the most complex trauma and surgical cases. No matter if it’s a complicated operation or highly advanced care after surgery – our critical care specialists use their education, training and expertise to save lives. 


Surgical Excellence For When Surgery’s Planned –
and When It Isn’t

Darren Hunt, M.D., is a board certified general surgeon who specializes in trauma and acute care surgery. He joined University Surgical Associates in 2014, and serves as an assistant professor of surgery, Department of Surgery, for the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Chattanooga. 

Dr. Hunt attended medical school at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia. He completed a general surgery residency at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga before completing trauma fellowship training at Emory University. He came back to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to complete a second fellowship in surgical critical care. 

According to Dr. Hunt, the surgical aspect of general surgery and trauma surgery is essentially the same. But trauma and surgical critical care provide another layer of complexity to any procedure and the care patients need following surgery. Dr. Hunt was drawn to surgery because of the immediate help he could provide while quickly seeing the results of his work. He found that surgical critical care interventions and follow up challenged him and kept him engaged. 

“There's a huge sense of fulfillment when you’re able to help someone – especially when every second matters like it does in trauma surgery,” Dr. Hunt says. “I do like the unpredictability of it, but I enjoy making an impact in people’s lives even more.” 

Surgical critical care surgeons are unique from other general or trauma surgeons, following their patients through every part of their hospital stay. They’re specially trained to understand the potential risks and setbacks after a surgical intervention, and they have expertise in caring for people at the brink of death. 

Excellence in General Surgery 
Although specially trained to handle any emergency surgical situation, Dr. Hunt also performs general surgery that’s planned in advance – including gallbladder removal, treatment for diverticulitis, and hernia repair. Inguinal hernia repair and educating people about the condition is one of the areas Dr. Hunt focuses on in his general surgery 
practice. 

“Several risk factors – some that are in people’s control and some that aren’t – contribute to the development of hernias and the long-term effectiveness of treatment. The controllable risk factors include obesity, smoking, and keeping blood sugar levels in balance,” Dr. Hunt says. “Genetic risk factors inherent in some people’s tissue makeup mean they are more likely to experience a hernia. These genetic predispositions can also cause a recurrence, making the management of controllable risk factors even more important to long term success.” 

When it comes to providing the highest quality surgical care, don’t you want an expert at your side? No matter if he’s providing a planned general surgery procedure or handling a severe trauma, Dr. Hunt provides the same level of quality care to his patients. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hunt for your general surgery needs, call (423) 267-0466.