Racial/ethnic disparities in clinically confirmed outcomes of heart and stroke surgeries

October 10, 2015

However, minorities were more likely to be cared for by less-experienced surgeons and hospitals. Adjusting for these patient and provider factors explained the worse results in African-Americans, but did not explain the poorer outcomes in Hispanics.

Rates of unnecessary surgery were also higher in minorities. For Hispanics, CEA was inappropriate in 17.6 percent of the cases; for African-Americans, 13 percent; and for Caucasians, 7.9 percent. The disparity in rates of unnecessary surgery was largely due to the higher burden of serious health conditions among minorities, which put them at much higher short-term risk of complications. If the short-term risk of carotid surgery is too high, the procedure is considered inappropriate.

"These results show we have the worst of all worlds," Dr. Halm said. "CEA is, paradoxically, both overused and underused in minorities and with worse results. More work is needed to help better understand the multiple factors that influence patient selection and surgical referral patterns. Developing evidence-based decision aids to help physicians and patients more accurately weigh the potential risks and benefits of CEA is one strategy we are pursuing to help improve this situation."

Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center