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J Natl Med Assoc. 2007 Sep;99(9):1030-6.

Hospital characteristics and racial disparities in hospital mortality from common medical conditions.

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  • 1Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.



Less is known about racial disparities in mortality from medical conditions than for procedures. We determined whether black-white disparities in risk-adjusted hospital mortality exist for five common conditions (myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, cerebral vascular accident, gastrointestinal hemorrhage and pneumonia), and to determine the role of hospital characteristics.


We used the 2003 Nationwide Inpatient Sample. Where a mortality disadvantage for black patients was demonstrated, additional analyses assessed whether the degree of disparity varied by hospital characteristics.


Mortality for black patients was equivalent to or lower than that for white patients for four of the five conditions. Black patients were more likely than white patients to die from gastrointestinal hemorrhage (1.5% vs. 1.1%, p<0.001). In multivariate analysis, hospital racial composition was the only characteristic associated with degree of disparity for gastrointestinal hemorrhage, with hospitals discharging fewer black patients demonstrating greater disparity.


In a large, multistate sample, there was no evidence of disparities in mortality for four of five common conditions. Black-white racial disparities in mortality from gastrointestinal hemorrhage, however, may be associated with hospital racial composition.

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