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Trauma Survival Study Reveals Racial Disparities

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, September 20, 2011

Trauma patients have a better chance of survival if they receive care at a trauma center in a hospital that treats primarily non-minority patients versus being treated in a hospital that provides care to primarily minority patients.

That's among the findings of study released in a paper (Association Between Hospitals Caring for a Disproportionately High Percentage of Minority Trauma Patients and Increased Mortality) published online Monday in the Archives of Surgery.

For the study, Adil H. Haider, MD , and a team of researchers looked at the medical records of 311,568 patients included in the National Trauma Data Bank in 2007 and 2008. The patients were from 434 hospitals with recognized trauma centers. More than 82% of the trauma centers were identified as level one or two centers.

The hospitals were placed into three categories depending on their patient mix: Primarily white--less than 25% minority (black and Hispanic) patients, mixed--25% to 50% minority patients, and primarily minority-- more than 50% minority patients.

What the team discovered is that a compared to treatment at a primarily white hospital, trauma patients of all races were 37% more likely to die if they were treated at a primarily minority hospital and 16% more likely to die when treated at a mixed hospital. In analyzing only patients with blunt trauma injuries, such as from a car crash, patients at predominantly minority hospitals were 45% more likely to die while at a mixed hospital the odds of death were 18% higher.

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