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Minorities Seen Less Often at High-Volume Hospitals

Medicaid recipients, uninsured also less likely to get treatment

TUESDAY, Oct. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Non-whites, Medicaid recipients and the uninsured are less likely to receive treatment at high-volume hospitals in California, which are associated with better outcomes, according to a report in the Oct. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Clifford Y. Ko, M.D., of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, and colleagues compared the characteristics of 719,608 patients treated in low- and high-volume hospitals in California for one of 10 surgical procedures that included coronary angioplasty, pancreatic cancer resection and total knee replacement.

Compared with whites, blacks treated at high-volume hospitals were significantly less likely to be treated for six of the operations, Asians were less likely for five of the procedures and Hispanics were less likely for nine. Medicaid patients were less likely than Medicare patients to be treated at high-volume hospitals for seven of the operations, and the uninsured were less likely than the insured to receive care for nine of them.

"Providing quality equitably in a setting of diverse values and preferences, racial and social barriers, and differences in ability to pay is a particularly challenging task," writes the author of an accompanying editorial, who adds that the only true solution is to "eradicate the racial discrimination and economic injustice of the society in which the U.S. health care system functions."

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