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Inquiry. 2011 Fall;48(3):209-20.

Do minority patients use lower quality hospitals?

Author information

  • 1Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, Suite 441, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Employing three years of inpatient discharge data from 11 states and inpatient and patient safety quality indicators from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), this paper explored whether minority (black, Hispanic, and Asian) patients used lower quality hospitals. We found that the association between the share of minority patients and hospital quality depended on how quality was measured and varied by race and ethnicity. Hospitals serving Hispanics performed well on most patient safety measures. Higher percentages of all three minority patient groups corresponded to lower quality for only one measure, postoperative sepsis. Our analysis indicates that it is incorrect to generalize that minorities use lower quality hospitals. Analysts and policymakers should be cautious when making generalizations about the overall service quality of hospitals that treat minority patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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