Several studies have indicated that racial disparities may exist in the management and outcomes of acute trauma care. One segment of trauma care that has not been as extensively investigated, however, is that of cranial trauma care. The goal of this study was to determine whether significant differences exist among racial and ethnic groups in various measures of inpatient management and outcomes after gunshot wounds to the head (GWH).
In this study, the authors used the Nationwide (National) Inpatient Sample (NIS) to investigate all-cause mortality, receipt of surgery, days from admission to initial intervention, discharge disposition, length of hospital stay, and total hospital charges of those with GWH from 2012 to 2016. A 1:1 propensity score–matched analysis was conducted to evaluate the effect of race on these endpoints, while controlling for baseline demographics and comorbidities.
A total of 333 patients met the inclusion and exclusion criteria: 148 (44.44%) white/Caucasian, 123 (36.94%) black/African American, 54 (16.22%) Hispanic/Latinx, and 8 (2.40%) Asian. African American patients were sent to immediate care and rehabilitation significantly less often than Caucasian patients (RR 0.17 [95% CI 0.04–0.71]). There were no significant differences in mortality, length of stay, rates of surgical intervention, or total hospital charges among any of the racial groups.
The authors’ findings suggest that racial disparities in inpatient cranial trauma care and outcomes may not be as prevalent as previously thought. In fact, the disparities seen were only in disposition. More research is needed to further elucidate and address disparities within this population, particularly those that may exist prior to, and after, hospitalization.