To assess the effect of diagnosis related group (DRG) changes on reimbursement for trauma care in New York State (NYS), 840 trauma patients were studied over a 2-year period. Average costs increased moderately ($10,338 vs. $11,646) while average revenues increased dramatically ($6,934 vs. $9,115), leading to a 21% reduction in operating losses ($1,310,625 vs. $1,032,733). This was largely a result of new multiple significant trauma (MST) DRGs. The impact of 1990/1991 DRG changes was assessed; a 39% reduction in operating losses occurred. Regression analysis of 1989 DRG case weight on cost indicated that MST DRGs were better predictors of resource utilization than other trauma DRGs. Review of NYS data affirmed that only 10% of trauma patients were assigned MST DRGs and 63% of trauma patients were discharged from community hospitals. On a national level, the effect of the new Medicare MST DRGs would be minimal, since only 5% of Medicare patients were assigned MST DRGs. Although improvements have been made, reimbursement for trauma care must be addressed further.
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