Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Harvard: Post-Surgical Racial Mortality Gap May be Narrowing

The post-surgical mortality gap between Blacks and Whites in the U.S. has declined over time, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study was published online June 5 in Health Affairs.

A team led by Harvard Chan research fellow Dr. Winta Mehtsun looked at Medicare inpatient claims data from 2005-14, from nearly 6.6 million patients age 65 and older, and examined trends in 30-day postoperative mortality rates in Black and White patients for several high-risk procedures, such as coronary artery bypass graft and hip replacement, and several low-risk procedures, such as appendectomy.

They found that postoperative mortality rates across a range of procedures decreased for both Blacks and Whites during the study period—by .10 percent and .07 percent per year, respectively—which significantly narrowed the Black-White gap.

The authors said that broad-based quality improvements at hospitals may have helped lessen racial disparities in surgical outcomes. But they added that disparities still exist, especially for low-risk surgeries, and that efforts to close post-surgical mortality gaps should continue.

Other Harvard Chan authors included Drs. Jie Zheng, E. John Orav, and Ashish Jha.

Read the abstract and more:

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