Financial triage in transfer of trauma patients: a myth or a reality?

Jennifer Parks, Larry M. Gentilello, Shahid Shafi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: It has been alleged that smaller hospitals transfer out uninsured trauma patients (wallet biopsy), putting the financial burden on major trauma centers. Methods: We undertook a retrospective analysis of the National Trauma Data Bank to compare patients who received care at major trauma centers after being transferred from another hospital (transfer group, n = 72,900) with patients who received definitive care at a smaller hospital (nontransfer group, n = 6,826). Results: Transfer patients were more likely to be uninsured (18% vs 14%; P < .001), but were more severely injured (Injury Severity Score, 11 ± 10 vs 7 ± 7; P < .001), or had multiple injuries. After adjustment for these differences, uninsured patients were no more likely to be transferred than insured ones (odds ratio, .95; 95% confidence interval, .88-1.04; P = .3). Conclusions: There was no relationship between lack of insurance and likelihood of transfer to a major trauma center.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e35-e38
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Financial triage
  • Transfer
  • Trauma systems
  • Uninsured

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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