Do Black and White Patients Experience Similar Rates of Adverse Safety Events at the Same Hospital?

A doctor and another man talk with a man in a wheelchair, next to an ambulance.

Research shows that Black adult patients experience higher rates of adverse patient safety events compared to White adult patients who receive care in the same hospital.

 

The Issue

Across 11 identified patient safety indicators, Black adult patients experienced significantly worse patient safety in six indicators when compared to White adult patients who were in the same age group, of the same gender, and treated in the same hospital. These adverse patient safety events occurred more frequently within identified patient safety indicators related to a surgical procedure.  

Key Findings

  • In six out of 11 indicators, Black adult patients experienced significantly worse patient safety events compared to White adult patients of the same gender, treated in the same hospital.

  • Racial disparities in patient safety occurred even when patients had similar types of insurance coverage.

  • Black patients experienced worse patient safety events in hospitals that served more Black than White patients.

Conclusion

Previous research examined how racial disparities in the quality of inpatient care can be attributed to differences in the quality of hospitals that Black patients are admitted to compared to White patients. This new analysis indicates that these disparities also exist among Black and White patients treated in the same hospital.

About the Urban Institute

The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector. Visit the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center for more information specific to its staff and its recent research.