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Hospitals Serving More Minorities Have Higher Trauma Death Rate
Date:9/19/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Regardless of their race or ethnicity, Americans who suffer a traumatic injury face a greater risk of dying at hospitals that serve a high proportion of minority patients, a new study shows.

Strains on hospital funding could be partially to blame, experts say.

"I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that a lot of hospitals with high minority patients are inner-city facilities. So these are places where more patients lack insurance," said study lead author Dr. Adil H. Haider, assistant professor of surgery and director of the Center for Surgery Trials and Outcomes Research at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. "There's a big financial burden at play here."

The study is published online Sept. 19 in the Archives of Surgery.

Numerous studies have noted poorer outcomes for black and Hispanic patients for illnesses such as cancer or heart disease. But Haider noted that "there has been a long-standing impression that an emergency is the 'great equalizer.'"

According to Haider, that's because "there is near universal access to 9-1-1 [care]," Haider said, "and we don't check race or insurance when we're busy rushing patients into an ER."

Nevertheless, "a lot of research has recently shown that actually there is a difference in traumatic injury outcomes," he said. "And race does make a difference. It's not that it matters if the trauma patient is himself white, black or Hispanic: everybody faces the same outcome. But in a hospital with a high minority population, that outcome will involve a higher rate of death."

In the study, Haider's team analyzed information from the National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB). The investigators looked at records covering nearly 312,000 trauma patients aged 18 to 64 treated at 434 hospitals across the country between 2007 and 2008. The NTDB is home to the largest trauma
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