Black patients more likely to have negative descriptors than white: Study
A study shows the bias against Black patients in medical records.
According to a study published Wednesday in Health Affairs, black patients were more than twice as likely as white patients to have unfavorable descriptions of them in their electronic health files.
The findings paint a grim picture of health care in America as well as the future of racial equality.
Researchers at the University of Chicago examined more than 40,000 notes in the EHRs of more than 18,000 patients at an urban university medical institution, looking for negative descriptors like "resistant," "challenging," or "noncompliant."
Researchers found that even after adjusting for sociodemographic and health variables, black patients were 2.54 times more likely to have negative descriptors.
The authors cite this as being a concern due to the repetitive nature of medical notes. Negative descriptors written in the admission history may subsequently be recommunicated to other doctors and health professionals, further propagating the bias against the patient.
Authors of the study warn that "this practice underscores the responsibility of providers who document the initial patient encounter to do so in an aware and sensitive manner."