Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Use of High-Volume Hospitals and Surgeons
To examine racial/ethnic differences in the use of high-volume hospitals and surgeons for 10 surgical procedures with documented associations between volume and mortality. Cross-sectional regression analysis. New York City area hospital discharge data, 2001-2004. Adults from 4 racial/ethnic categories (white, black, Asian, and Hispanic) who underwent surgery for cancer (breast, colorectal, gastric, lung, or pancreatic resection), cardiovascular disease (coronary artery bypass graft, coronary angioplasty, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, or carotid endarterectomy), or orthopedic conditions (total hip replacement). Treatment by a high-volume surgeon at a high-volume hospital. There were 133 821 patients who underwent 1 of the 10 procedures. For 9 of the 10 procedures, black patients were significantly (P < .05) less likely (after adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics, insurance type, proximity to high-volume providers, and comorbidities) to be operated on by a high-volume surgeon at a high-volume hospital and more likely to be operated on by a low-volume surgeon at a low-volume hospital. Asian and Hispanic patients, respectively, were significantly less likely to use high-volume surgeons at high-volume hospitals for 5 and 4 of the 10 procedures and more likely to use low-volume surgeons at low-volume hospitals for 3 and 5 of the 10 procedures. Minority patients in New York City are doubly disadvantaged in their surgical care; they are substantially less likely to use both high-volume hospitals and surgeons for procedures with an established volume-mortality association. Better information is needed about which providers minority patients have access to and how they select them.