Trauma Care Does Not Discriminate

The Association of Race and Health Insurance with Mortality Following Traumatic Injury

Published in: Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, Volume 78, Issue 5, pages 1026–1033 (May 2015). doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000000593

Posted on RAND.org on January 28, 2021

by Turner M. Osler, Laurent G. Glance, Wenjun Li, Jeffery S. Buzas, Megan L. Wetzel, David W. Hosmer

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Background

Previous studies have reported that black race and lack of health insurance coverage are associated with increased mortality following traumatic injury. However, the association of race and insurance status with trauma outcomes has not been examined using contemporary, national, population-based data.

Methods

We used data from the National Inpatient Sample on 215,615 patients admitted to 1 of 836 hospitals following traumatic injury in 2010. We examined the effects of race and insurance coverage on mortality using two logistic regression models, one for patients younger than 65 years and the other for older patients.

Results

Unadjusted mortality was low for white (2.71%), black (2.54%), and Hispanic (2.03%) patients. We found no difference in adjusted survival for nonelderly black patients compared with white patients (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.04; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.90–1.19; p = 0.550). Elderly black patients had a 25% lower odds of mortality compared with elderly white patients (AOR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.63–0.90; p = 0.002). After accounting for survivor bias, insurance coverage was not associated with improved survival in younger patients (AOR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.77–1.07; p–=–0.233).

Conclusion

Black race is not associated with higher mortality following injury. Health insurance coverage is associated with lower mortality, but this may be the result of hospitals' inability to quickly obtain insurance coverage for uninsured patients who die early in their hospital stay. Increasing insurance coverage may not improve survival for patients hospitalized following injury.

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