The researchers also looked at the data by hospital, and whether or not a hospital was primarily a minority-serving hospital.
Of the 3 million plus discharges, 276,681 (8.7 percent) were for black patients, and 2,886,330 (91.3 percent) were for white patients. About 40 percent of the black patients and 6 percent of white patients received care at hospitals that primarily served minorities.
The average age of the patients was mid-70s to early 80s, depending on the condition. There were slightly more women included in this study than men.
Overall, readmission rates were 24.8 percent for blacks and 22.6 percent for whites, which means black patients have 13 percent greater odds of readmission within 30 days after discharge, according to the study.
Among those who had been admitted for heart attack, black patients from minority-serving hospitals had the highest readmission rates -- 26.4 percent, according to the study. That translated to 35 percent greater odds of readmission for this group.
The results of the study are published in the Feb. 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Joynt said this study wasn't able to tease out the reasons that these disparities exist, but said that less access to transitional care may play a role. She said that other research has shown that good follow-up care after a hospital discharge can make a difference in readmission rates.
"The biggest take-away from this study is that currently, hospital readmission is a major problem in the U.S., and we need better solutions to help prevent readmission," said the co-author of an editorial in the same issue of the journal, Dr. Adrian Hernandez, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C.
"This was an excellent study that raises important questions. How can we get a process in place that strengthens the support rec
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