Black hospital patients more likely to face security response than White patients

Unconscious bias, past negative experiences may be contributing factors, researchers say

A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows that Black hospital patients are more likely to face a security emergency response call in the hospital than White patients.

While security emergency response calls are used to ensure the safety of patients and staff, they can all cause unintended morbidity, and the researchers wanted to see the extent of racial and ethnic inequities.

The results of the study showed that 2.8% of Black patients had security called during their first admission, compared to 1.6% of White patients. Black patients were 1.37 times more likely to have a security response than Whites. Hispanic patients did not have higher odds of facing security than non-Hispanic patients.

The study analyzed date from 24,212 patients between September 2018 to December 2019 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Security emergency response calls happen when hospital staff deems that a patient poses a threat to themselves or others. Security may be security guards or police officers.

The study found no correlation between race and the use of physical restraints.

Researchers say that Black patients may face unconscious bias from health care personnel or may have had negative health care experiences in the past that might lead to more potential conflicts with security.

The study is one of many showing the challenges Black patients face. Other studies have shown a lack of access to COVID vaccines, a higher overdose rate, lower technology use for diabetes treatment, and stigmatizing language used in their medical charts.

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