Among California hospitals, for-profits and those serving higher rates of blacks and Medicaid patients were found to be at greater risk of closing their emergency rooms, according to a study published online (PDF) by the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
Patient mix plays into risk of ERs closing: study
The five researchers who conducted the study found that for every 10% increase in black patients that a hospital served, the risk of its ER closing increased by 40%. And for every 10% increase in Medicaid patients a hospital served, the risk of its ER closing increased by 17%, according to the study, which is based on 1998-2008 data from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. During that time, 7.2% of ERs in the state closed.
The study also indicates that for-profit hospitals had 65% higher risk of closing than not-for-profit hospitals.
The authors noted that the relationship between ER closure and race, as well as a cluster of closures in Los Angeles County, demonstrates the importance of regional evaluation of the issue, as the study’s findings were not observed in a recent national analysis of ER closures.
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