In the latest study to point to racial disparities in healthcare, researchers have found that elderly black Medicare recipients have higher 30-day readmission rates following hospitalizations for heart attack, pneumonia and congestive heart failure.
Additionally, the authors determined that those racial disparities are related in part to features of hospitals that serve large numbers of minorities. Minority-serving hospitals typically treat a higher proportion of Medicaid patients, have longer average lengths of stay for each of the three conditions, and have somewhat lower scores on selected Hospital Quality Alliance measures, according to the authors.
After analyzing data from more than 3 million discharges, the researchers found that readmission rates were lowest among white patients who received treatment at non-minority-serving hospitals, while the odds of readmission were highest among black patients at minority-serving hospitals.
For instance, the readmission rate after heart attack was 26.4% for blacks treated at minority-serving hospitals, well above the 20.9% rate for whites at non-minority-serving hospitals, according to the study, which appeared in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Our findings that racial disparities in readmissions are related to both patient race and the site where care is provided should spur clinical leaders and policymakers to find new ways to reduce disparities in this important health outcome,” the authors wrote in the study.