Skip to Content

'Avoidable Hospitalizations:' Another Way the Pandemic Is Tougher on Minorities

FRIDAY, March 19, 2021 -- White Americans had a greater decline in potentially avoidable hospitalizations during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic than Black Americans, according to a new study.

The findings suggest that Black patients may have had less access to outpatient care that could have helped keep them out of the hospital for non-COVID health problems.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles said their findings show another way the pandemic has increased racial disparities in health care.

"At a time when large-scale community activism has brought attention to systemic racial injustices, it's important to bring these inequities to light so that action can be taken," said study author Dr. Richard Leuchter, a resident at UCLA Health.

He and his colleagues analyzed more than 4,800 admissions at UCLA Health hospitals between March 1 and Aug. 31, 2020, and compared them to the same months of 2019.

Overall, they found that 7.2% of hospitalizations last year might have been avoidable, compared with 8.9% in 2019. While potentially avoidable hospitalizations dropped 50% for white patients, they fell 32.3% for Hispanic patients; 16.1% for Asian patients, and 8% for Black patients.

The differences were statistically significant only between white patients and Black patients, according to the study published March 19 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"While these findings are limited to UCLA Health, these problems represent a systemwide challenge for health care that cannot be addressed through the actions of a single institution," Leuchter said in a university news release.

The hospital admissions in the study were for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, community-acquired pneumonia, uncontrolled diabetes and diabetes complications, and urinary tract infections. People with these conditions can often avoid a hospital stay with appropriate outpatient treatment, according to the researchers.

They noted that the findings suggest Black Americans are more likely to face financial burdens of missed work and medical costs due to potentially avoidable hospital stays, as well as separation from their families and increased risk of hospital-acquired infections.

"A campaign to reduce avoidable hospital admissions could have an enormous positive impact on people of color by minimizing the harms to which they are exposed through such hospitalizations," Leuchter said.

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Read this next

Americans Still Avoiding ERs in Pandemic, But Uptick Seen in Mental Health Crises

FRIDAY, April 16, 2021 -- While ER visits have stayed below normal levels as the coronavirus pandemic continues, the number of people showing up in the emergency department with...

AHA News: Could the Pandemic Help Boost Diversity in Clinical Trials?

FRIDAY, April 16, 2021 (American Heart Association News) -- The pandemic has exposed troubling inequities in the United States that have left Black and Hispanic people at higher...

U.S. Marines Study Finds Getting COVID Won't Protect Young People From Reinfection

FRIDAY, April 16, 2021 -- Young adults, take note: A new study finds that even if you have suffered a bout of COVID-19, it is not a guarantee against a second...

More News Resources

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Whatever your topic of interest, subscribe to our newsletters to get the best of in your inbox.