Malpractice News

September 23, 2013

Trauma centers visited by patients affect mortality rates

Not all trauma centers were created equally, according to a new study published in the October issue of Annals of Surgery. Researchers found that death rates at trauma centers vary based on the race of the people served there. The higher the percentage of white people served, the lower the death rate, and conversely, the higher the percentage of minorities served, the more likely it is the trauma center will have higher-than-expected death rates.

The statistics came from 181 U.S. trauma centers which were then classified as having low, average, or high death rates. 86 of the centers were classified low, 6 were average, and 89 were high. The study authors explained the results, saying, “Of the centers with predominately minority patients, 81.5 percent had higher-than-expected death rates. Sixty-four percent of the black patients in the study were treated at centers with high death rates, compared with 41 percent of white patients.”

Patients at high death rate centers were less likely to have insurance as well, with the study revealing 45 percent of patients being without at high death rate centers compared to just 21 percent at low rate centers. Also noted was the fact that trauma patients “were 40 percent less likely to die—regardless of their race or the extent of their injuries—if they were treated at hospitals with low death rates (which serve predominantly white patients.”

Medical professionals have previously published studies linking lack of insurance and ethnicity to mortality rates, but this is the first that has pointed out the importance of the hospital visited as well. Dr. Adil Haider is an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and was quoted in a recent press release, saying, “It’s not just difference in the patients. All patients of all races do better at the trauma centers treating white majority populations, so this research tells us we need to direct attention to hospitals with higher mortality rates to help them improve their outcomes, or we won’t ever be able to turn this around.”


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