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Analysis

ICU Outcomes Lag at Hospitals Serving Minorities

By John Commins  
   January 20, 2020

African-Americans treated at non-minority hospitals experienced a 3% decline in mortality each year, compared to no decline in mortality when treated at minority-serving hospitals.

Hospital intensive care units with a larger percentage of African-Americans and Hispanics in their patient mix have not improved outcomes at the same pace as hospitals serving primarily white patients, a new study shows.

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston examined trends in ICU mortality and length of stay in 200 hospitals from 2006 through 2016 and found a steady annual decline of 2% in ICU deaths at non-minority hospitals.

The same improvement in mortality rates was not seen at minority-serving hospitals, which the researchers defined as a hospital with a 25% or greater mix of African-Americans and Hispanics in their patient censuses.

The study, published this week in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that the gap is most apparent for critically ill African-American patients.

However, African-Americans treated at non-minority hospitals experienced a 3% decline in mortality each year, compared to no decline in mortality when treated at minority-serving hospitals.

Minority-serving hospitals also reported longer lengths of ICU stay and critical illness hospitalizations than non-minority hospitals, according to the study, which did not speculate on the reasons for the disparity.

"Although our analysis does not resolve the reasons for differences in outcomes, it identifies minority serving hospitals as an area of great need," said study lead author John Danziger, MD, a nephrologist at BIDMC.

"Focusing research efforts to further address these inequalities is critical in mitigating the disadvantages minorities face and ultimately closing the healthcare divide," Danziger said.

“Although our analysis does not resolve the reasons for differences in outcomes, it identifies minority serving hospitals as an area of great need.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

ICU mortality and length of stay in 200 hospitals from 2006 through 2016 declined by 2% at non-minority hospitals.

The same improvement in mortality rates was not seen at minority-serving hospitals.


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