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Racial Disparity Seen in Trauma Center Mortality Rates

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 12, 2013

Researchers found that 27 of the trauma centers serve a population that is more than 50% minority, while 154 have patients who are mostly white. Of the trauma centers that serve predominantly minority patients 81.5% were classified as high-mortality, and 64% of black patients in the study group were treated at these high-mortality centers compared to only 41% of white patients.

Haider says detailed attention was given to making risk adjustments for the trauma patients cited by the study. "We risk adjust patients on age, the injury severity score, their physiologic state when they got injured and when they got to us," he says. "Every way we cut this it makes sense because it is very sensitive stuff. Once you say it, you can't take it back so you have to be super right when you do it."

The analysis also showed that 45% of patients at high-mortality centers don't have insurance, compared to 21% at low-mortality hospitals.

"We did not study hospitals' bottom lines, so now I am speculating, but if you have a better bottom line because you have more insured patients then you are able to invest in more stuff and you are able to do a better job and keep getting better," Haider says.

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