Hospitals that aren't designated trauma centers are more likely to transfer severely injured patients that lack insurance and admit ones that have coverage, according to a new study.
The findings, published online Wednesday in the journal JAMA Surgery, showed that patients covered under Medicaid were 14% more likely than the uninsured to be admitted rather than transferred to a trauma center. Privately insured patients were 11% more likely to be admitted rather than transferred compared with those without insurance.
The research suggests that a patient's ability to pay may be among the many factors that emergency department physicians are taking into consideration when deciding whether to transfer a patient to a trauma-care facility, according to study author Dr. M. Kit Delgado, an instructor at University of Pennsylvania's Department of Emergency Medicine.
Delgado said it's more likely that hospitals were transferring patients who lack insurance rather than holding onto insured patients for the sake of getting paid.