Racial Disparities in U.S. Mortality Rates for Cirrhosis

Black and Hispanic patients may be treated less aggressively than whites

FRIDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- Black patients with cirrhosis have higher rates of in-hospital mortality compared to whites and this may be explained by the fact that they are less likely to undergo a palliative shunt or liver transplant, according to the results of a study published in the May issue of Hepatology.

Paul J. Thuluvath, M.D., of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data on patients with cirrhosis and complications of portal hypertension from the 1998 to 2003 Nationwide Inpatient Sample.

Black patients were less likely than their white counterparts to have variceal hemostasis within 24 hours to treat variceal bleeding. Blacks also had higher in-hospital mortality than other patients. The odds of receiving a liver transplant were 0.32 and 0.46 for black and Hispanic patients, respectively, compared to whites, and the odds of receiving a portosystemic shunt were 0.37 and 0.69, respectively.

"Given the rapidly expanding minority populations, which are expected to become the majority of the population by 2050, addressing health disparities in cirrhosis, which has a big effect on both resource utilization and mortality, will be critical in the next several years," the authors conclude.

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