OBJECTIVE: To measure national variation in splenectomy rates, mortality, and costs for hospitalized patients with splenic injury and the impact of state trauma systems on these outcomes. METHODS: Using the HCUP State Inpatient Database for 2001, 2004, and 2007, all patients hospitalized with splenic injury were identified from 19 participating states. Multivariate regression was performed to compare splenectomy rates, inpatient mortality, and costs between states. Inclusiveness of statewide trauma systems was categorized based on the proportion of hospitals designated as a trauma center. RESULTS: Of 33,131 patients, 26.2% underwent splenectomy, 6.1% died, and median hospital costs were $14,317. After adjusting for patient, injury, and hospital characteristics, there was a 1.7-fold variation (RR 1.67; 95% CI, 1.39-2.01) among the 19 states in rates of splenectomy. Adjusted inpatient mortality varied more than 2-fold between the highest and lowest states (RR 2.43; 95% CI, 1.76-3.37). Adjusted hospital costs varied over 60% between the highest and lowest states (cost ratio 1.61; 95% CI, 1.41-1.83). States with the most inclusive trauma systems had significantly lower splenectomy rate (RR 0.79; 95% CI, 0.68-0.92) and lower mortality (RR 0.71; 95% CI, 0.58-0.87), but similar hospital costs (CR 1.05; 95% CI, 0.95-1.16) compared to states with exclusive or no trauma systems. CONCLUSIONS: Significant geographic variation in the management, outcome, and costs for splenic injury exists in the United States, and may reflect differences in quality of care. Inclusive trauma systems seem to improve outcomes without increasing hospital costs.
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