Black Patients Are More Likely Than White Patients to Be in Hospitals with Worse Patient Safety Conditions

Brief

Black Patients Are More Likely Than White Patients to Be in Hospitals with Worse Patient Safety Conditions

March 29, 2021

Abstract

Identifying and reducing racial disparities in the quality of health care is a necessary (if insufficient) step toward reversing the effects of systemic racism on racial health inequities in America. This study investigates differences in Black and white patient safety measures using complete hospital discharge records from 26 states in 2017 and further examines whether some of these differences in patient safety quality can be attributed to the hospitals into which they are admitted. Black patients experienced higher rates of adverse patient safety events on 6 of 11 patient safety measures, including 5 of 7 surgery-related patient safety measures. For 9 of 11 patient safety indicators, including 6 of 7 surgery-related patient safety indicators, Black patients were significantly less likely to be admitted into hospitals classified as “high quality” (i.e., hospitals best at minimizing patient safety risks based on the median value of each patient safety indicator). These findings suggest that current policies aimed at reducing adverse patient safety events have been ineffective in addressing inequities in the quality of inpatient care. 

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