African American children are three times more likely than their white peers to die after surgery despite arriving at hospitals without serious underlying conditions, the latest evidence of unequal outcomes in health care, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics,
“We know that traditionally, African Americans have poorer health outcomes across every age strata you can look at,” said Olubukola Nafiu, the lead researcher and an anaesthesiologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “One of the explanations that’s usually given for that, among many, is that African American patients tend to have higher comorbidities. They tend to be sicker.”
But his research challenges that explanation, he said, by finding a racial disparity even among otherwise healthy children who came to hospitals for mostly elective surgeries.
Out of 172,549 children, 36 died within a month of their operation. But of those children, nearly half were black – even though African Americans made up 11% of the patients overall. Black children had a 0.07% chance of dying after surgery, compared with 0.02% for white children.
Postoperative complications and serious adverse events were also more likely among the black patients and they were more likely to require a blood transfusion, experience sepsis, have an unplanned second operation or be unexpectedly intubated.
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Source: The Independent, 20 July 2020