(HealthDay News) – Uninsured patients are significantly less likely than insured patients to be transferred between hospitals, according to research published in the Jan. 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Janel Hanmer, MD, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and colleagues analyzed data for 315,748 patients, aged 18–64 years, who were discharged from acute care hospitals with biliary tract disease, chest pain, pneumonia, septicemia, or skin/subcutaneous infection. The authors sought to assess the relationship between insurance status and interhospital transfer.

In unadjusted analysis, the researchers found that uninsured patients, compared with insured patients, were significantly less likely to undergo interhospital transfer for three diagnoses. In adjusted analysis, uninsured patients were significantly less likely than privately insured patients to be transferred for the following four diagnoses: biliary tract disease (odds ratio [OR], 0.73), chest pain (OR, 0.63), septicemia (OR, 0.76), and skin infections (OR, 0.64). For all five diagnoses, women were less likely to undergo interhospital transfer than men.

“In total, these results suggest that nonmedical factors (that is, insurance coverage and sex) may play an important role in determining which hospitalized patients are transferred to another acute care hospital,” the authors write.

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