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Blacks Readmitted to Hospital More Than Whites: Study
Date:2/15/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- After leaving the hospital for treatment of three common conditions, older black people are more likely to be readmitted within 30 days than older white people, a new study finds.

Overall, older blacks have 13 percent greater odds of being readmitted to the hospital, recent research suggests, while patients treated at hospitals that primarily serve minority populations have 23 percent greater odds of readmission within 30 days.

"There are significant racial disparities in readmission rates in this country," said the study's lead author, Dr. Karen Joynt, a health policy fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

"We found that both race and site of care mattered. The next step is to find out why this disparity exists," she said.

And, she noted, no matter what the race, about 20 percent of people discharged from the hospital are readmitted within 30 days, which suggests that there are gaps in care that need to be identified and addressed.

"Hospital discharge is a really vulnerable time. Going home from the hospital often requires medication changes, diet changes and lifestyle changes. Even in the best case scenario, one in five is being readmitted," she said.

Because readmissions are so common, reducing the rate of readmission is a focus in health-care policy. Previous studies have suggested that racial disparities may play a role in readmission rates, but the evidence was inconclusive, according to background information in Joynt's study.

Using national Medicare data that included more than 3 million hospital discharges for heart attack, congestive heart failure and pneumonia, the researchers compared the rate of readmissions for blacks and for whites. To conform with other research, the researchers considered any non-black patients as white, which means that Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans
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