If Uninsured and in ICU, Higher Death Risk

NEW ORLEANS, May 18 (UPI) — Adults without health insurance who were admitted to Pennsylvania hospital intensive care units had a 21 percent increased risk of death, researchers said.

“Previous studies suggested that uninsured critically ill patients may have a higher mortality, and may be less likely to receive certain critical care procedures. But we found that these differences are primarily due to differences in quality within hospitals rather than across hospitals,” Dr. Sarah M. Lyon of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania said in a statement. “We found that even when admitted to the same hospitals, and controlling for other differences between patients, critically ill individuals without insurance are less likely to survive than those with private or Medicaid insurance.”

Intensive care patients who were uninsured were less likely than similar patients with insurance or Medicaid to receive some procedures, including placement of central venous catheters, tracheostomies and acute hemodialysis.

Lyon and colleagues analyzed 30-day mortality of 166,995 adult patients under age 65 admitted to Pennsylvania intensive care units from 2005 to 2006. The study found 67.7 percent has health insurance, 28.5 percent had Medicaid and 3.8 percent were uninsured.

“Our findings suggest that intensive care units patients without insurance have a higher risk of death and receive less intense treatment in the intensive care units,” Lyon said in a statement.

The findings are scheduled to be presented at the ATS International Conference in New Orleans.

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