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Uninsured More Likely to Die in the Emergency Room

Archives of Surgery

Harvard University recently released a study finding that uninsured patients who suffer from traumatic injuries are almost twice as likely to die in a hospital than the patients who are injured and have health insurance. Dr. Atul Gawande, a Harvard surgeon and senior author stated “This is another drop in a sea of evidence that the uninsured fare much worse in their health in the United States.”

Interestingly, the researchers responsible for the article could not state specific reasons for the differences they found in this study. The research included factors such as the severity of injury, race, age and gender. However, even with those adjustments, the researchers found that the uninsured were 80 percent more likely to die than those with insurance, which included Medicaid insurance.
In the study, 690,000 patients were reviewed between 2002-2006. Overall, the death rate was 4.7 percent. The private insurance patients had a death rate of 3.3 percent. The uninsured patients’ death rate was 5.7 percent.
Several physicians who were interviewed about these findings expressed concern and surprise. Although it is well known that people without insurance do not get the same treatment as those with insurance, the emergency room was one place thought to be immune from this disparity since Federal Law requires hospital E.R.’s to treat all patients who are medically unstable.