Black patients see more hospital adverse events than white patients

Across several factors Black adult patients experienced worse patient safety than white patients in the same hospital.

Black patients were more likely than their white counterparts to experience adverse safety events when treated in the same hospital.

According to a study published by the Urban Institute, in six out of 11 patient safety indicators, including four out of seven surgery-related indicators, Black patients experienced significantly worse patient safety compared to white patients in the same age group, of the same gender, and treated in the same hospital. Meanwhile white patients experienced significantly worse quality of care compared to their Black counterparts on two safety indicators, and Black and white patients received similar cased on three indicators.

Insurance type had little effect on the estimated difference in patient safety risk between Black and white patients admitted to the same hospital. The results were similar when the analysis was limited to Medicare-covered patients showing that the disparities are not tied to insurance type, the study says.

Looking at data from hospitals where 25 percent of patients are Black, Black patients experience higher adverse safety events relative to white patients. In these hospital five of the indicator remain significantly different when comparing Black and white patients, according to the study.

“From a policy standpoint, further efforts to expand insurance coverage among minorities—while having many positive benefits for patients, including potentially improved patient safety—are unlikely to reduce Black-white disparities in hospital patient safety,” the authors write. “Similarly, policies that increase payment rates for Medicaid to align provider financial incentives across patient populations, advocated as a means of improving health care equity by the Institute of Medicine, could improve safety for patients covered by Medicaid but would not address the Black-white safety differences experienced by patients on the same coverage type observed in this study.”

The full study can be found here.