Uninsured patients twice as likely to die in hospital

Traumatically-injured patients without health insurance are more than twice as likely to die in the hospital as those who have coverage, according to a new study by Harvard University researchers which included celeb medical journalist and Harvard surgeon Dr. Atul Gawande.

The study, which factored in the severity of injuries and patient demographics, looked at data on about 690,000 U.S. patients from 2002 through 2006. The study excluded burn patients, patients who were treated and released, and those who were DOA.

The research team found that uninsured patients who had experienced traumatic events like car crashes, falls and gunshot wounds were 80 percent more likely to die than those with any form of insurance. Even patients with Medicaid had lower mortality rates. Commercially-insured patients had death rates of 3.3 percent, while uninsured patients had a 5.7 percent death rate.

The reasons for this disparity aren't clear, however. Researchers note that the causes could be varied, including more frequent transfers of the uninsured to other hospitals, differences in the overall quality of care at hospitals serving the uninsured and possibly differences in how the uninsured communicate with caregivers.

Get more context on the study:
- read this MSNBC piece

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