Study: Black patients may receive better GI care when treated at hospitals with diverse populations

A recent study of outcomes for common gastrointestinal problems suggests black patients may do better when treated at hospitals with more racially diverse patients.

Philip Okafor, MD, a researcher at Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, is the lead author of the study, which was published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

For the study, Dr. Okafor and his colleagues analyzed data on more than 848,000 admissions at almost 3,400 hospitals across the nation. They focused on the following gastrointestinal problems: cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis, gastrointestinal hemorrhages, gastrointestinal obstructions, irritable bowel disease and gallbladder surgery.

The patient population was on average 27 percent minority with black individuals accounting for 14 percent of all patients.

Here are five findings from the study.

1. The study found black individuals overall were about 19 percent more likely to die or experience serious complications than white patients, according to a Reuters report.

2. However, when black individuals were treated at hospitals with more racially diverse patient populations, they were 20 percent less likely to die or experience major complications compared to their counterparts treated at hospitals with less racial diversity, according to the report.

3. Dr. Okafor told Reuters the study is unable to prove diversity improves outcomes for black patients. However, he noted the study does suggest physicians may do a better job of caring for minorities when they routinely see patients from a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds.

4. Researchers also looked into hospital charges. They reported hospital charges overall were 36 percent higher for black patients than for white patients, according to Reuters.

5. But the study found when black patients received care at hospitals with more diverse populations, their charges were 51 percent lower than if they went to hospitals with less diversity, according to the report.


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