Racial and ethnic disparities persist in healthcare, as a study in February's Archives of Surgery finds that minority patients in New York City seem less likely than white patients to have surgeries performed by high-volume surgeons or at facilities that have handled large numbers of similar procedures in the past.
Study notes disparities regarding surgery
Researchers led by Andrew Epstein of Yale University's School of Public Health selected 10 procedures for which evidence indicates hospital and surgeon volume affect patients' short-term risk of death, including cancer, cardiovascular and orthopedic surgeries. Then they examined 133,821 records of patients in the New York City area who underwent one of those procedures between 2001 and 2004. Of the patients, 100,798, or about 75% were white; 17,499, or 13% were black; 4,249, or 3%, were Asian; and 11,275 or about 8%, were Hispanic. For all 10 procedures, they found, white patients were more frequently treated by high-volume surgeons and at high-volume facilities than black, Asian or Hispanic patients.
The study's authors mentioned previously reported reasons for ethnic and racial disparities, namely geographic and financial incentives that keep minority patients from higher-quality providers.
“Another hypothesis posits racial/ethnic differences in access to or use of information about provider quality,” the authors noted. “In addition to efforts to improve the quality of care among providers serving minority patients, policymakers and clinicians may be able to improve outcomes by encouraging minority patients and their surrogates to consider performance information when choosing hospitals and surgeons.”
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