Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Disparities in Trauma Outcomes

On an average day in Massachusetts, eight people die from traumatic injuries with more than 2,800 lost lives annually but the injuries alone result in more than 50,000 hospitalizations costing the state $2.5 billion. While demographic and geographic disparities in access to trauma care have been documented independent of whether or not individuals have health insurance, little is known about the impact of healthcare reform on eliminating these disparities and improving the survival rate of trauma victims.

A new, three year $1.2 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities will enable researchers to study disparities in trauma outcomes for patients in the state. Researchers from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the University of Vermont Medical School will take part in the study.

The researchers would like to find out why such great disparities exist in a state with such an advanced medical infrastructure and almost universal health insurance coverage. The team will use the new Erwin Hirsch State Trauma Registry and other hospital and vital record repositories to help understand why there are disparities and how these disparities have impacted Massachusetts healthcare reform’s ability to deliver quality trauma care.

The team will analyze data related to utilization, mortality, quality indicators, discharge dispositions, and the cost of trauma care. These population-based data sources comprise retrospective information on traumatic injuries both prior to and after the healthcare law’s enactment, allowing investigators to analyze geographic, socioeconomic, and clinical factors associate with all episodes of care.