Elderly patients receive lower quality of care than younger patients at trauma centers, study shows

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Trauma centers in the United States and Canada are more adept at treating younger patients than elderly patients, according to new study findings.

Researchers looked at data from nearly 88,000 trauma patients—one-quarter of whom were elderly—treated at 131 U.S. trauma centers and one Canadian center. When the age groups were combined, 14 centers were ranked as being “high” performers. When elderly and younger patients were evaluated separately, seven centers were high performers for young patients and nine were deemed high performers for elderly patients. Only two of the 131 centers surveyed performed highly for both young and elderly patients.

Investigators said they've “shown that elderly patients have different needs from young patients,” and should be treated as such. For instance, elderly patients are more likely to have heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, which impact the level of care needed. Study results were published in the January issue of Annals of Surgery.