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Trauma Survival Study Reveals Racial Disparities

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

In conversations with physicians and others, Haider learned that hospitals that underperform in terms of chronic disease outcomes are often underfunded and have a patient base that is largely uninsured. "We began to wonder if the same phenomena could be applied to trauma patients."

The study notes that the underachieving hospitals tend to serve a patient population that is largely uninsured. For primarily white hospitals 75% of the patient mix had private or government sponsored health insurance. At primarily minority hospitals the insured accounted for 55% of the patient mix. That mix is critical when taking into account the cost of treating trauma patients and the possibility that the hospital will need to absorb some portion of the costs.

Also, people without insurance tend to visit doctors less often and may arrive at the hospital with more preexisting health problems that complicate their serious traumas, problems that could impact recovery, Haider explained.

Among the indications that mixed and primarily minority hospitals may less money to devote to patient care— the median numbers of core trauma surgeons, orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons was the same across all hospital categories.

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