Factors associated with transfer of hand injuries to a level 1 trauma center: a descriptive analysis of 1147 cases.
BACKGROUND: The transfer of patients with hand injuries involves a commitment of substantial resources, emphasizing the importance of understanding factors that may influence referral patterns. Anecdotal experience suggests that the likelihood of transfer increases during nights and weekends. This study aimed to analyze patterns of hand trauma transfers to Duke University Medical Center with respect to timing and patient insurance status. METHODS: The authors performed a retrospective chart review and analysis of 1147 consecutive patient transfers from 2005 to 2010 at a single level 1 university trauma center. Data categories included timing of transfer, patient demographics, insurance status, diagnosis, and procedures performed. Statistical analysis was performed using SAS software (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, N.C.). RESULTS: Of the patient sample, 39.8 percent was female, 30 percent were African American, and 57.3 percent were white. Contrary to our expectations, transfers were more likely during the day (p = 0.0001). Likewise, patients were more likely to present on weekdays than on weekends (p = .001). Although uninsured patients were not disproportionately represented overall, they were more frequently transferred at night (p = 0.0001), despite having the same complexity of injuries as privately insured patients. Conversely, patients with private insurance were less likely to be transferred at night (p = 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Similar to studies in other surgical specialties, this analysis demonstrates significant associations between insurance status and hand injury transfer patterns. The current climate, including declining numbers of surgeons willing to provide emergency hand care, diminishing reimbursements, and an expanding uninsured patient population, threatens to exacerbate these concerning trends in trauma patient management.
Butala, P; Fisher, MD; Blueschke, G; Ruch, DS; Richard, MJ; Hollenbeck, ST; Levinson, H; Leversedge, FJ; Erdmann, D
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