Finding emphasizes need to fix U.S. health care, expert says
TUESDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Uninsured children in the United States are three times more likely to die from trauma injuries than children with private insurance, according to a new study.
Children with public insurance, such as Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program, are about twice as likely to die as those with private insurance, the study found.
"We have this idea that everyone is treated equally, yet the mortality rate after trauma among uninsured children is much higher when compared to children with commercial insurance," Dr. Heather Rosen, a research fellow in plastic surgery at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School and the study's lead researcher, said in a news release from the hospital.
The findings, published in the October issue of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, stemmed from an analysis of National Trauma Data Bank information on 174,921 trauma patients aged 17 and younger.
The researchers suggested several possible reasons for the disparity they found:
"This study suggests that there may be a direct effect of possessing insurance," Rosen said. "We need to work harder to get to the point where every person has access to health care in this country."
She noted that the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) requires all hospitals to treat patients until they're medically stable, regardless of insurance status.
"This paper provokes more questions than it answers," she said. "Should we be more vigilant about investigating whether EMTALA laws are being violated? Is this happening more often than we care to admit?"
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips for protecting children from injuries.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: Children's Hospital Boston, news release, Nov. 2, 2009
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