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Racial Disparity Seen in Trauma Center Mortality Rates

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 12, 2013

Several mechanisms "end up leading to minority and uninsured patients having a higher death rate after trauma and I think that the hospital that they go to certainly plays a major role," says the lead author of a study that analyzed records from the National Trauma Data Bank.


Adil H. Haider


Adil H. Haider, MD, trauma surgeon and associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School

More than 80% of trauma centers that treat mostly minority patients have higher death rates than do trauma centers that treat mostly white and insured patients, a Johns Hopkins study shows.

The same study also found, however, that trauma patients of all races are 40% less likely to die if they are treated at hospitals with lower mortality rates, regardless of the severity of their injuries.

"Disparity issues are never simple," says the study's lead author Adil H. Haider, MD, a trauma surgeon and associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "There are several mechanisms that end up leading to minority and uninsured patients having a higher death rate after trauma and I think that the hospital that they go to certainly plays a major role into it. Certainly what this data shows is that not all hospitals are equal."

The findings detailed in an article published in the October issue of Annals of Surgery are based on an analysis of records from the National Trauma Data Bank. Haider and his team classified 181 trauma centers across the nation into three categories and found 86 hospitals with lower-than-expected death rates; six with average death rates; and 89 with higher-than-expected death rates.

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