Heart study cites sites
* Where heart-attack victims go for medical care-more than patients' race or ethnicity-significantly determines the quality of care they receive, according to a study in the Oct. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study of 110,175 patients treated at more than 1,480 hospitals from 1999 to 2002 compared how quickly white and minority patients received a drug or balloon procedure to improve blood flow. Minority patients did not receive care as quickly as white patients; particularly, black patients received drug therapy or balloon therapy seven minutes and 19 minutes later than whites. However, the disparity narrowed when researchers accounted for individual hospitals' mean times to treatment. "Our findings reveal that a substantial portion of the racial and ethnic disparity in time to treatment is accounted for by the hospital to which a patient is admitted, in contrast to differential treatment by race and ethnicity inside the hospital," the authors wrote.
Strike cripples hospital
* A three-day strike by 240 nurses at Armstrong County Memorial Hospital, Kittanning, Pa., effectively shut down the 170-bed hospital for part of last week. Only outpatient areas and the emergency department were being staffed with agency nurses, said Anne Remaley, the hospital's vice president of human resources. "With our economic and financial condition, you can't afford to staff a hospital with agency nurses," Remaley said. The strike will cost the hospital $150,000 a day, she said. Hospital officials planned to begin admitting patients again Oct. 7, when the strike ended. The hospital started transferring or discharging 106 patients after receiving a 10-day strike notice from the Pennsylvania State Education Association. The walkout resulted in the temporary layoff of 171 nonunion employees. Contract talks for the nurses have stalled over wages and pension.