Study: Minimizing Overtriage Could Save $136.7M Annually

The U.S. healthcare system could cut trauma care spending by $136.7 million annually by preventing overtriage of low-risk injured patients to major trauma centers, according to a Health Affairs study.

Trauma care is the second-largest driver of U.S. healthcare spending, according to the study. Treating seriously injured adults costs approximately $30 billion annually, and the country spends about $163 billion — 10 percent of all U.S. medical spending — treating all injured patients.

The study included injured children and adults transported to 122 hospitals in various regions in Oregon, Washington, California, Utah and Colorado. The patients' treatment during the study period of 2006 to 2008 resulted in more than $1.01 billion in acute-care costs. Of the 288,832 patients with minor to moderate injuries, 41.5 percent received care at major trauma centers, where the cost per patient is higher compared with the cost at other trauma centers and nontrauma hospitals.

These findings demonstrate the importance of field triage process accuracy to minimize excess costs, according to the study.

More Articles on Healthcare Costs:
Study: "Futile" Care is Frequent, Costly
Medication Non-Adherence Drives Up Pediatric Costs 
AHRQ Proposes ED Discharge Tool to Reduce Unnecessary Visits 

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