Emergency-care workers appear less likely to transport elderly patients to trauma centers than they are to transport younger patients, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of Surgery. Researchers led by David Chang of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed 10 years of data from the statewide Maryland Ambulance Information System, and they surveyed emergency medical services and trauma-center personnel between 2004 and 2006 after presenting them with findings from the registry.
The registry identified 26,565 trauma patientsdefined as those who met criteria established by the American College of Surgeonsand found that 49.9% of patients older than 65 were undertriaged or not taken to a state-designated trauma center, compared with 17.8% of younger patients. Also, researchers found that being 65 or older was associated with a 52% reduction in likelihood of being transported to a trauma center.
The problem of age bias raised in this study may negate efforts to improve clinical care for elderly trauma patients within trauma centers if the system as a whole does not function properly and deliver patients appropriately to needed resources, the authors noted. -- by Jessica Zigmond