2 Mississippi hospitals spend millions a year to avoid treating serious trauma patients

Baptist Medical Center and St. Dominic Hospital, both in Jackson, Miss., each pay $1.5 million annually to opt out of accepting high-need trauma patients and support trauma care at other facilities, according to state health department records obtained by Mississippi Today.

Mississippi, which has a statewide trauma care system, ranks hospitals based on their ability to care for serious trauma patients, with level 1 facilities being most equipped and level 4 facilities being least equipped.

The state's health department says the two Jackson hospitals can provide level 2 care, but Baptist Medical Center and St. Dominic each pay a $1.5 million annual nonparticipation fee for choosing not to accept level 2 trauma patients and opting instead to operate as level 4 facilities, according to the online news site.

State records obtained by the nonprofit news and media company show the two hospitals together have paid the state $26 million since 2008 to avoid accepting serious trauma patients.

The money is used to support hospitals that are part of the statewide trauma care system.

"To avoid duplication of trauma services, St. Dominic Hospital defers to [Jackson-based University of Mississippi Medical Center, which houses the state's only level 1 trauma center] and is already well- equipped to handle these cases," Andy North, director of marketing and communications for St. Dominic, told Mississippi Today, referring to high-need trauma patients. "It is more cost-effective and provides better patient outcomes for St. Dominic's to support the state's trauma fund through payment of the fee."

Baptist Medical Center CEO and Administrator Bobby Ware told Mississippi Today the medical center "participate[s] at a level that we feel we have the availability of specialists to support that trauma level. And so that's why we choose a specific level in the trauma system. It does not preclude us from taking trauma patients. We average over 100 trauma patients a year that we provide care for."

Read the full Mississippi Today report here.


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