Disparities in the care received by black and white Medicare patients narrowed considerably between 1997 and 2003, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers looked at Medicare data on nine measures of appropriate care for breast-cancer prevention, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and found that racial disparities had decreased in all but two -- glucose control among diabetics and cholesterol control among patients with cardiovascular disease. The largest gains were seen in the prescription of beta-blockers within seven days of discharge after a heart attack, bypass surgery or angioplasty. In 2002, 93% of blacks who should have been prescribed beta-blockers actually were and 94% of whites were, up from 64% and 76%, respectively, in 1997. The percentage of black Medicare patients who appropriately received mammograms rose to 75% from 69% during the same period, while the rate for whites improved to 77% from 74%. At deadline, the study was not available online. -- by Joseph Mantone
Study finds gap shrinking in care for blacks, whites
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