Blacks and patients at hospitals with a high percentage of black patients more likely to suffer adverse events

Research Activities, November 2011

In a study of 100,000 Medicare patients hospitalized in 3,648 hospitals, researchers found that blacks had a higher risk than whites of suffering from a healthcare-associated infection or adverse drug event. Also, patients discharged from hospitals with the highest percentage of black patients had a significantly higher risk of hospital-acquired infection or adverse drug event than patients discharged from hospitals with the lowest percentage of black patients. On the other patient safety measures studied, there was no difference between groups. The adverse events studied included: adverse drug events associated with hypoglycemic agents, heparin, and warfarin; general adverse events such as falls and pressure ulcers; four types of infection-related adverse events; and seven types of post-procedural adverse events. Ernest Moy, M.D., M.P.H., of the Agency for Health-care Research and Quality, and fellow researchers suggest that hospitalized blacks experience higher rates of adverse drug events and hospital-acquired infections because they are independently at higher risk of these events.

Also, blacks are more often cared for at hospitals where these events are more likely to occur, independent of race. The researchers call for greater attention to patient safety and quality improvement at these hospitals. See "Racial disparities in the frequency of patient safety events. Results from the the National Medicare Patient Safety Monitoring System," by Mark L. Metersky, M.D., David R. Hunt, M.D., Rebecca Kliman, M.P.H., and others in the May 2011 Medical Care 49(5), pp. 504-510. Reprints (AHRQ Pub. No. 11-R050) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

Page last reviewed November 2011
Internet Citation: Blacks and patients at hospitals with a high percentage of black patients more likely to suffer adverse events: Research Activities, November 2011. November 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.