Physicians treating black Medicare patients were more likely to report problems obtaining hospital admissions, specialty referrals and other care for their patients, according to a study appearing in today's New England Journal of Medicine.
The study, by researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the Washington-based Center for Studying Health System Change, also found that about 80% of primary-care visits by elderly black Medicare patients were to 22% of physicians, and that those doctors were less likely to be board-certified in their primary specialty.
"The findings paint a picture of two health systems, where physicians treating black patients appear to have less access to important clinical resources and be less well-trained clinically than physicians treating white patients," said Peter Bach, a physician and lead author of the study.
The study was based on Medicare claims data and a nationally representative sampling of information collected from about 12,000 practicing physicians during 2000 and 2001. Several previous studies have indicated that minorities often receive less care and have less access to specialists than whites.