OAKLAND -- The trauma center at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland has been verified as Level 1 by the American College of Surgeons.

Children's is the only Bay Area free-standing children's hospital with a Level 1 trauma center and is one of four such pediatric trauma centers in California.

The voluntary verification involves reviews of all aspects of trauma care, including the emergency room, surgery, intensive care, rehabilitation, injury prevention and outreach education.

"Getting the American College of Surgeons' verification is the gold standard for trauma centers. Our trauma folks are really excited," a Children's spokeswoman said.

"It's critical that seriously injured children be treated at a trauma center that is geared to their medical needs," said Dr. Bertram Lubin, the hospital's president and CEO, in a news release.

Children's pediatric trauma center has been designated a Level 1 since 1986. Trauma centers at Highland Hospital in Oakland and Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley both have been verified as Level 2 by the American College of Surgeons.

In California, Level 1 and Level 2 trauma centers provide similar services and personnel, but Level 1 centers also are research and teaching facilities. Pediatric trauma centers focus on children, with Level 1 centers having additional pediatric specialties, research and teaching.