Older Patients May Get Lower Quality Care at Trauma Centers

Few facilities were rated as providing high-quality care for both old and young, study finds

FRIDAY, Jan. 28, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Trauma centers may not give the same high-quality care to severely injured elderly patients as they provide to younger patients, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed data on 87,754 trauma patients of all ages treated at 131 trauma centers in the United States and one trauma center in Canada. About one-quarter of the patients were elderly.

When patients in all age groups were grouped together, 14 centers were rated as high performers, with lower than expected rates of death. When young and elderly patients were looked at separately, seven centers were high performers for young patients and nine were high performers for elderly patients. Only two centers were high performers for both young and elderly patients.

The study findings are published in the January issue of the journal Annals of Surgery.

"In the study we showed that although some centers demonstrate high performance overall, these same centers might not be providing the same high-quality care to the elderly," Dr. Barbara Haas, of St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, said in a news release from the American College of Surgeons.

"We've shown that elderly patients have different needs from young patients. Centers need to focus on the needs of the elderly specifically in order to improve their quality of care," she added.

The study authors noted that an aging population means trauma centers are seeing many more elderly patients, who are more likely than younger patients to have conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. These health problems need to be taken into account at the same time elderly patients are being treated for their injuries.

More information

The Public Health Agency of Canada offers tips for preventing injuries in seniors.

SOURCE: American College of Surgeons, news release, Jan. 25, 2011
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