A study by researchers at John Hopkins University School of Medicine analyzed data from 181 trauma centers within the U.S. and shows a correlation between trauma centers that serve mainly minority patients and higher death rates than average of those patients they serve. Trauma centers that serve mainly white patients have newer and more efficient technology, better trained staff, and more access to specialists and services; these trauma centers have better outcomes and more of their patients are insured or are able to afford the healthcare costs. In contrast, due to socioeconomic reasons, minority patients are less likely to be able to afford the healthcare costs or pay for insurance in a traumatic situation. Trauma centers which serve mainly minority patients have less economic resources available to them for use in the improvement of equipment, quality of staff and maintenance; this discrepancy in funding among trauma centers in different neighborhoods leads to unnecessary deaths which would be easily avoided if the trauma centers were sufficiently funded.
Adil H. Haider of the John Hopkins University School of Medicine states that, “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.” Trauma centers in areas that have a majority of patients who cannot afford the insurance or medical bills (typically minority patients) are not discriminating against patients based on race or privilege, but rather they are improperly funded and because of this, patients are dying – deaths which would be easily prevented with the proper funding. Haider goes on to say, “The emergency room has long been perceived as a great care equalizer, given universal access to it and the highly standardized nature of trauma treatment protocols”. We now understand that the size of someone’s wallet or even the color of their skin can greatly influence the level of treatment one receives.
“Trauma centers serving mostly white patients have lower death rates for patients of all races.” Science Daily, September 11, 2013, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130911125005.htm
“Higher death rates in centers treating more minority patients may be due to financial strains” Johns Hopkins Medicine, September, 12, 2013, http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/study_shows_trauma_centers_serving_mostly_white_patients_have_lower_death_rates_for_patients_of_all_races
Student Researchers: Maria Gutierrez Muñoz, JP Carrillo, Ashley O’Brien, Jessica Lozano, Ian Levy (Santa Rosa Junior College)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (Santa Rosa Junior College)