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Spending more on trauma care doesn't translate to higher survival rates
Date:8/10/2012

A large-scale review of national patient records reveals that although survival rates are the same, the cost of treating trauma patients in the western United States is 33 percent higher than the bill for treating similarly injured patients in the Northeast. Overall, treatment costs were lower in the Northeast than anywhere in the United States.

The findings by Johns Hopkins researchers, published in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, suggest that skyrocketing health care costs could be reined in if analysts focus on how caregivers in lower-cost regions manage their patients.

At least in the case of trauma care, "spending more doesn't always mean saving more lives," says study leader Adil H. Haider, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of Hopkins' Center for Surgical Trials and Outcomes Research. "If doctors in the Northeast do things more economically and with good results, why can't doctors out West do the same thing? This study provides a potential road map for cutting unnecessary costs without hurting outcomes."

But researchers say they don't know exactly why costs vary by region. Haider says that it is possible that in one part of the country, it may be customary to do an expensive type of medical test prior to treatment, while in other parts, that test may not be done.

Haider notes that health care costs account for roughly 16 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States, and trauma-related disorders rank among the five most costly conditions.

For their study, Haider and his colleagues analyzed three years of data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project's Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), the largest all-payer inpatient database publicly available in the United States. They identified 62,678 adult patients with a primary injury in one of five domains: blunt injury to the spleen, collap
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Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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