Black Covid Patients Are More Likely To Die From The Virus Than White Ones – New Research Suggests Hospitals Are To Blame


Differences in hospitals can explain why Black Covid-19 patients are more likely to die than white patients, according to a new study published Thursday, underscoring the pervasive and longstanding healthcare inequalities that disproportionately affect Black people in America. 

Covid mortality rates differ between Black and White people.

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Black Covid-19 patients were 11% more likely to have died or been discharged to a hospice within 30 days of being admitted to hospital than white patients when factors like age, existing health conditions and socioeconomic characteristics are accounted for, according to research published in JAMA Network Open Thursday.   

These differences were “almost entirely explained by the hospitals” Black and white patients were admitted to, the researchers wrote, per data from more than 44,000 people at around 1,200 hospitals in 41 states.

One possible reason behind the difference could be that “more hospitals located in disadvantaged neighborhoods may have worse finances and provide care of lower quality as a result of differences in payer mix or community resources,” the researchers suggested.

The findings are yet more “evidence of structural factors” disproportionately affecting the health of Black people in the U.S., the researchers wrote.

Addressing hospital segregation and improving the quality and resourcing of hospitals serving Black communities could help address the uneven mortality rate, the researchers added. 

Given the link between hospital admissions and state, the researchers said it is possible the racial differences “were created at the state level rather than the hospital level,” a possibility that should be investigated further and could require state-wide remedies to fix.  

The study does not address why Black patients were admitted to different hospitals than white ones, though the researchers suggested “disadvantaged neighborhoods may have worse finances and provide care of lower quality.” Differences in how Black and white patients are referred to hospital may also lead to differences. The study which the researchers claim is “the largest and most comprehensive sample of U.S. hospitals to date,” is nevertheless limited to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries from a single insurer, possibly skewing results. 

Key Background

Throughout the pandemic, Black people have been disproportionately more likely to catch, be hospitalized with and die from Covid-19 than white people. Black people have also received a far smaller share of available vaccines, something often attributed to a mistrust in vaccines and the medical establishment fueled by structural racism, with calls to expand healthcare and access to information and jabs to Black communities.. The inequalities surrounding Covid-19 are situated within a larger framework of racial health inequalities in the U.S. that disproportionately burden and risk the health of Black people.

Tangent

Native American and Hispanic people also face a disproportionate burden when it comes to Covid-19. Vaccination rates for Hispanic people are also well behind what one might expect given their share of the total population.   

Patient and Hospital Factors Associated With Differences in Mortality Rates Among Black and White US Medicare Beneficiaries Hospitalized With COVID-19 Infection (JAMA Network Open)

Black People Are Four Times More Likely To Die From Coronavirus, U.K. Statistics Show (Forbes)

How Structural Racism Works — Racist Policies as a Root Cause of U.S. Racial Health Inequities (NEJM)

Illness Linked To Covid-19 Is Likely More Common In Black, Latino And Asian Children (Forbes)

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