The trauma ecosystem: The impact and economics of new trauma centers on a mature statewide trauma system

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION

Florida serves as a model for the study of trauma system performance. Between 2010 and 2104, 5 new trauma centers were opened alongside 20 existing centers. The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of trauma system expansion on system triage performance and trauma center patients' profiles.

METHODS

A statewide data set was queried for all injury-related discharges from adult acute care hospitals using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) codes for 2010 and 2014. The data set, inclusion criteria, and definitions of high-risk injury were chosen to match those used by the Florida Department of Health in its trauma registry. Hospitals were classified as existing Level I (E1) or Level II (E2) trauma centers and new E2 (N2) centers.

RESULTS

Five N2 centers were established 11.6 to 85.3 miles from existing centers. Field and overall trauma system triage of high-risk patients was less accurate with increased overtriage and no change in undertriage. Annual volume at N2 centers increased but did not change at E1 and E2 centers. In 2014, Patients at E1 and E2 centers were slightly older and less severely injured, while those at N2 centers were substantially younger and more severely injured than in 2010. The injured patient-payer mix changed with a decrease in self-pay and commercial patients and an increase in government-sponsored patients at E1 and E2 centers and an increase in self-pay and commercial patients with a decrease in government-sponsored patients at N2 centers.

CONCLUSION

Designation of new trauma centers in a mature system was associated with a change in established trauma center demographics and economics without an improvement in trauma system triage performance. These findings suggest that the health of an entire trauma system network must be considered in the design and implementation of a regional trauma system.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE

Therapeutic/care management study, level IV; epidemiological, level IV.

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