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Trauma Survival Study Reveals Racial Disparities

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

Haider noted that minority patients did not have worse outcomes at predominantly white hospitals.

Patients were adjusted for age, sex, insurance status, the presence of severe head and/or extremity injury, and hypotension on arrival at the ER. The patients had an injury severity of at least 9, which means the patient could die from the trauma injuries.

The paper is the latest in a series of studies about race and trauma survival conducted by Dr. Haider and the trauma outcomes research group at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

In a telephone interview Haider said the results of the team's trauma studies have dispelled the long–held notion that trauma care has no disparities in treatment. "There always been this idea that any trauma victim could come to an ER and receive equal treatment without regard to race or insurance status. We've believed that the best outcome were at large trauma centers. That that makes sense because that's where there are 24-hour staffs with operating rooms always ready to go."

What Haider and his team discovered is that outcomes for both adult and children trauma victims were related to race and insurance status. "Minorities and the uninsured were more likely to die of trauma injury," stated Haider.

The next step was to look at the underlying causes of the outcome. Haider said that while they looked at a number of possible pre-hospital influencers such as primary care treatment and the health of the patient, it seemed more likely that systemic issues with the hospitals were at play.

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