AARP Eye Center
Older trauma victims left behind?
By Alejandra Owens, August 25, 2008 04:18 PM
This is sort of outrageous.
A study is Maryland found that "[p]atients older than 65 are much less likely to be taken to a Maryland trauma center than younger patients with the same medical emergencies." After studying 26,000 trauma patients statewide from 1995 through 2004, Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health discovered that unconscious age bias may be a factor in the disparity of immediate trauma treatment between younger and older folks. Ya think?
Considering the size of the study in the state, I wouldn't be surprised if this bias exists nationwide. Via the Baltimore Sun:
The study found that 50 percent of patients 65 and older were not taken to trauma centers as opposed to 18 percent of younger patients. While the disparity was notable for patients 65 and older, researchers found that it began at age 50.
The article delves into potential reasons why this bias might exist, like the fact that for young surgeons, an older patient's fall is less exciting than a gunshot wound by a younger victim, or that diagnosing elderly patients might be more difficult since older folks tend to have more general aches and pains. And I say those are pretty horrendous reasons to prefer one trauma victim over another. Maybe it's just me, but the level of excitement or difficulty shouldn't be deciding factors when it comes to saving lives.