-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. trauma centers that
serve mostly white patients have low death rates for people of all
races, while the majority of trauma centers that serve mostly
minority populations have higher-than-expected death rates, a new
Researchers analyzed data from 181 U.S. trauma centers and
categorized them as having low, average or high death rates. The
numbers in each category were 86 centers, six centers and 89
centers, respectively. Twenty-seven of the trauma centers (15
percent) serve a patient population that is more than 50 percent
minority, while most patients at 154 centers are white.
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, the Johns
Hopkins researchers found.
The analysis also revealed that 45 percent of patients at
centers with high death rates don't have insurance, compared to 21
percent of patients at centers with low death rates, according to
the study in the October issue of the journal
Annals of Surgery.
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), the investigators found.
Along with supporting previous research showing that a patient's
race and insurance status make a difference in their chances of
survival after suffering life-threatening injuries, the study shows
that hospitals are also an important factor, according to the
"It's not just differences in the patients," Dr. Adil Haider, an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a Hopkins news release.
"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," noted Haider, who is also director of the Center for Surgery Trials and Outcomes Research at Johns Hopkins.
He said that hospitals serving mainly white people may have more
money because they have a higher percentage of well-insured
patients and receive more donations. This means they can afford
staff training and other measures to continually improve care.
"We need to find a way to help poorly performing trauma centers improve. In most cases, these centers are doing a very difficult job without enough resources. And if we try, we can certainly help these centers achieve better outcomes. It can't continue to be the case that the color of a patient's skin determines whether he or she survives a serious injury," Haider said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about
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