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Thousands Of Trauma Patients Needlessly Transferred Each Year

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Aired 9/10/10

A new study from UCSD suggests thousands of trauma patients are transferred between hospitals -- unnecessarily -- each year. The study reveals pediatric patients seem to be the most affected.

— A new study from UCSD suggests thousands of trauma patients are transferred between hospitals -- unnecessarily -- each year. The study reveals pediatric patients seem to be the most affected.

The phenomenon is called secondary over-triage. It involves the unnecessary transfer of trauma patients between hospitals.

The affected patients are usually discharged from the second hospital within 24 hours. The study suggests that means the transfer wasn't necessary in the first place.

Lead author of the study David Chang says there's a better way to handle these patients.

"We're talking of sort of a rational use of health care resources," Dr. Chang said. "If this is a case that can be checked out in a regular clinic visit three days later, there's no point ordering a helicopter and transferring a patient to a distant hospital."

Chang says the cost of a case of secondary over-triage is around $5,900.

He says the average American spends about $8,000 a year in health care costs.

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