Background: Trauma centers frequently accept patients from other institutions who are being sent due to the need for a higher level of care. We hypothesized that patients with minor traumatic injuries who are transferred from outside institutions would impart a negative financial impact on the receiving trauma center. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of all trauma patients admitted to our urban level I trauma center from October 1, 2011, through September 30, 2013. Patients were categorized as minor trauma if they did not require operation within 24 h of arrival, did not require ICU admission, did not die, and had a hospital length of stay <24 h. Transferred patients and nontransfers (those received directly from the field) were compared with respect to injury severity, insurance status, and hospital net margin. Student's t-test and z-test for proportions were performed for data analysis. Results: A total of 6951 trauma patients were identified (transfer n = 2228, nontransfer n = 4724). Minor injury transfers (n = 440) were compared to nontransfers (n = 689). Hospital net margin of transferred patients and nontransferred patients were $2227 and $2569, respectively (P = 0.22). Percentages of uninsured/underinsured for transfers and nontransfers were 27.3% and 36.1%, respectively (P = 0.002). Conclusions: During our study period, 19.7% of transfers and 14.6% of nontransfers can be categorized as having minor trauma. Minor trauma transfer patients are associated with a positive hospital net margin for the trauma center that is similar to that of the nontransfer group. The data also demonstrate a lower percentage of uninsured/underinsured in the transferred group.
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