Study: Black patients more likely to die from COVID-19

A study found that Black Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized with COVID-19 were 11 percent more likely to die or be discharged to hospice.

Black Medicare patients experienced worse outcomes than their white counterparts when hospitalized with COVID-19.

According to a study appearing on JAMA, titled “Patient and Hospital Factors Associated With Differences in Mortality Rates Among Black and White US Medicare Beneficiaries Hospitalized With COVID-19 Infection” black Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized with COVID-19 were 11 percent more likely to die or be discharged to hospice.

The study looked at 44,217 Medicare beneficiaries admitted with COVID-19 to 1,188 hospitals across the country from Jan. 1 to Sept. 21, 2020. It found that the primary outcome for these patients was inpatient death or discharge to hospice within 30 days of being admitted.

Of the patients whose data was included in the study, 55 percent women and the median age was 76.3 years old. Broken down by race, 76 percent (33,459) of the patients were white and 24 percent (10,758) were Black.

The researchers found that 8 percent of white patients and 10 percent of Black patients died as inpatients, while 5 percent of white patients and 3 percent of Black patients were discharged to hospice within 30 days. Adjusting for clinical and sociodemographic patient characteristics, they found Black patients were more likely to die or be discharged.

“The compelling literature from other clinical contexts that racial disparities in quality of care are often attributable to hospital-level segregation makes it more plausible that the racial mortality differences we saw for COVID-19 also reflect differences in hospitals rather than differences in the states in which they were nested,” the study says. “This interpretation suggests that the additional mortality faced by Black patients might be eliminated if Black patients received care in the same hospitals and in the same distribution as White patients. This is a novel finding, and it adds to the evidence of structural factors that disproportionately burden the health of Black people in the US.”