Patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) who are admitted to hospitals without coronary revascularization are frequently transferred to hospitals with this capability. We sought to determine whether the timeliness of hospital transfer and quality of destination hospitals differed between black and white patients.
We evaluated all white and black Medicare beneficiaries admitted with AMI at nonrevascularization hospitals in 2006 who were transferred to a revascularization hospital. We compared hospital length of stay before transfer and the transfer destination's 30-day risk-standardized mortality rate for AMI between black and white patients. We used hierarchical regression to adjust for patient characteristics and examine within and across-hospital effects of race on 30-day mortality and length of stay before transfer.
A total of 25,947 (42%) white and 2345 (37%) black patients with AMI were transferred from 857 urban and 774 rural nonrevascularization hospitals to 928 revascularization hospitals. Median (interquartile range) length of stay before transfer was 1 day (1 to 3 d) for white patients and 2 days (1 to 4 d) for black patients (P<0.001). In adjusted models, black patients tended to be transferred more slowly than white patients, a finding because of both across and within-hospital effects. For example, within a given urban hospital, black patients were transferred an additional 0.24 days (95% confidence interval 0.03-0.44 d) later than white patients. In addition, the lengths of stay before transfer for all patients at urban hospitals increased by 0.37 days (95% confidence interval 0.28-0.47 d) for every 20% increase in the proportion of AMI patients who were black. These results were attenuated in rural hospitals. The risk-standardized mortality rate of the revascularization hospital to which patients were ultimately sent did not differ between black and white patients.
Black patients are transferred more slowly to revascularization hospitals after AMI than white patients, resulting from both less timely transfers within hospitals and admission to hospitals with greater delays in transfer; however, 30-day mortality of the revascularization hospital to which both groups were sent to appeared similar. Race-based delays in transfer may contribute to known racial disparities in outcomes of AMI.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Given increasingly scarce healthcare resources and highly differentiated hospitals, with growing demand for critical care, interhospital transfer is an essential part of the care of many patients. The purpose of this review is to examine the extent to which hospital quality is considered when transferring critically ill patients, and to examine the potential benefits to patients of a strategy that incorporates objective quality data into referral patterns.
Interhospital transfer of critically ill patients is now common and safe. Although extensive research has focused on which patients should be transferred and when they should be transferred, recent study has focused on where patients should be transferred. Yet, the choice of destination hospital is rarely recognized as a therapeutic choice with implications for patient outcomes. The recent public release of high-quality, risk-adjusted and reliability-adjusted outcome data for most hospitals now offers physicians an informed basis on which to choose to which destination hospital a patient should be transferred. A strategy of 'guided transfer' that integrates public quality information into critical care transfer decisions is now feasible.
Although hospitals often transfer patients, there may be substantial room for improvement in transfer patterns. Guiding transfers on the basis of objective quality information may offer substantial benefits to patients, and could be incorporated into quality improvement initiatives.
Current opinion in critical care 09/2011; 17(6):641-7. DOI:10.1097/MCC.0b013e32834b3e55 · 2.62 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine whether insurance coverage and race are associated with long-term acute care hospital utilization in critically ill patients requiring mechanical ventilation.
Retrospective cohort study.
Nonfederal Pennsylvania hospital discharges from 2004 to 2006.
Eligible patients were aged 18 yrs or older, of white or black race, and underwent mechanical ventilation in an intensive care unit during their hospital stay.
We used multivariable logistic regression with hospital-level random effects to determine the independent association between discharge to long-term acute care hospital, insurance status, and race after appropriate controls, including a chart-based measure of severity of illness. The primary outcome measure was discharge to long-term acute care hospital. Of 66,233 eligible patients, 84.7% were white and 15.3% were black. More white patients than black patients had commercial insurance (23.4% vs. 14.9%) compared to Medicaid (10.6% vs. 29.7%) or no insurance (1.3% vs. 2.2%). Long-term acute care hospital transfer occurred in 5.0% of patients. On multivariable analysis in patients aged younger than 65 yrs, black patients were significantly less likely to undergo long-term acute care hospital transfer (odds ratio, 0.71; p = .003), as were patients with Medicaid vs. commercial insurance (odds ratio, 0.17; p < .001). Analyzing race and insurance together and accounting for hospital-level effects, patients with Medicaid were still less likely to undergo long-term acute care hospital transfer (odds ratio, 0.18; p < .001), but race effects were no longer present (odds ratio, 1.06; p = .615). No significant race effects were seen in the Medicare-eligible population aged 65 yrs or older (odds ratio for transfer to long-term acute care hospital, 0.93; p = .359).
Differences in long-term acute care hospital utilization after critical illness appear driven by insurance status and hospital-level effects. Racial variation in long-term acute care hospital use is not seen after controlling for insurance status and is not seen in a group with uniform insurance coverage. Differential access to postacute care may be minimized by expanding commercial or Medicare insurance availability and standardizing long-term acute care admission criteria across hospitals.
Critical care medicine 10/2011; 40(4):1143-9. DOI:10.1097/CCM.0b013e318237706b · 6.31 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Interhospital transfer of critically ill patients is a common part of their care. This article sought to review the data on the current patterns of use of interhospital transfer and identify systematic barriers to optimal integration of transfer as a mechanism for improving patient outcomes and value of care.
Narrative review of medical and organizational literature.
Interhospital transfer of patients is common, but not optimized to improve patient outcomes. Although there is a wide variability in quality among hospitals of nominally the same capability, patients are not consistently transferred to the highest quality nearby hospital. Instead, transfer destinations are selected by organizational routines or non-patient-centered organizational priorities. Accomplishing a transfer is often quite difficult for sending hospitals. But once a transfer destination is successfully found, the mechanics of interhospital transfer now appear quite safe.
Important technological advances now make it possible to identify nearby hospitals best able to help critically ill patients, and to successfully transfer patients to those hospitals. However, organizational structures have not yet developed to insure that patients are optimally routed, resulting in potentially significant excess mortality.
Critical care medicine 08/2012; 40(8):2470-8. DOI:10.1097/CCM.0b013e318254516f · 6.31 Impact Factor
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