The impact of level 1 pediatric trauma center designation on demographics and financial reimbursement

Catherine M. Cosentino, Martha J. Barthel, Marleta Reynolds*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

A retrospective analysis of medical and financial records of trauma patients admitted over a 4-year period was undertaken to determine the impact of level 1 pediatric trauma center designation on demographics and financial reimbursement. Three hundred fifty-four patients were admitted from November 1, 1985, to October 31, 1986 (Prelevel 1 designation [PREL1]). Five hundred seven patients were admitted from November 1, 1986, to October 31, 1987 (Postlevel 1 designation [PostL1]) (P < .005). Mechanisms of injury were similar in both groups, with falls being most prevelant (PreL1, 50.8%; PostL1, 43.4%). The magnitude of injuries in the PostL1 period, as expressed by Pediatric Trauma Scores and Injury Severity Scores, did not change significantly. The types of injuries, as indicated by organ systems involved, did not change. The exception was thoracic injuries, which increased from 1.7% to 4.5% (P = .037). Total hospital charges per patient increased ($5,820 PreL1; $7,691 PostL1) (P = .034). Collection rates did not change (77.6% PreL1; 76.4% PostL1). The institution incurred a financial loss per patient of $1,149 PreL1 and $1,795 PostL1 (P = .055). Years 2 and 3 PostL1 designation were analyzed to identify trends (year 2 PostL1: November 1, 1987 to October 31, 1988 [488 patients]; year 3 PostL1: November 1, 1988 to October 31, 1989 [459 patients]). The distribution of Pediatric Trauma Scores and Injury Severity Scores did not change. Total hospital charges per patient remained fairly constant ($8,082 year 2 PostL1; $7,276 year 3 PostL1). Unreimbursed costs increased significantly compared with losses during the PostL1 period ($4,262 year 2 PostL1, P < .005; $2,799 year 3 PostL1, P = .04). In this institution, level 1 pediatric trauma center designation resulted in a significant increase in admissions. This did not result in an increase in the percentage of moderately and severely injured patients as had been expected. The institution experienced an increased financial loss initially based on volume and later compounded by increased unreimbursed charges. More appropriate utilization of level 1 pediatric trauma centers is needed to allow these institutions to be maximally efficient and cost-effective. Alternative financial reimbursement systems may be necessary to allow these centers to operate at cost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-311
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

Keywords

  • Pediatric trauma center
  • level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery

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