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Race, Health Insurance Status Affects Outcome Of Trauma Care

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Minorities and the uninsured are more likely to die after trauma than whites, even if they have similar injuries, according to a study published in the October issue of the Archives of Surgery, the New York Times reports. The study -- led by Adil Haider, an assistant professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine -- is based on records of more than 310,000 trauma patients included in the national databank. The data include information on patient race, age, severity and type of injury, insurance status and mortality (Bakalar, New York Times, 10/21). The data encompass patient records from 700 hospitals across the nation (Thomas, Chicago Sun-Times, 10/21).

Researchers found that when compared with whites, blacks had a 17% increased risk of death after trauma and Hispanics had a 47% increased risk (New York Times, 10/21). Among those who were insured, Hispanics were 51% more likely than whites to die after being treated for a trauma injury, and blacks had a 20% higher mortality rate than whites. Lack of insurance was the most significant predictor of outcome, and minorities were more likely than whites to be uninsured.

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Haider said that uninsured and minority patients might be more likely than whites to have pre-existing medical conditions that lower their chances of survival. Romana Hasnain-Wynia -- director of Northwestern University's Center for Healthcare Equity, who was not a part of the study -- added that the two groups are more likely to receive treatment at trauma centers that have limited resources and tend to have worse patient outcomes (Chicago Sun-Times, 10/21).

Haider said, "This study refutes the notion that racial disparities in trauma care are merely a reflection of insurance status," adding, "Both insurance and race are independent predictors of mortality after trauma. And of the two, insurance is the more important predictor" (New York Times, 10/21).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.