Missed nursing care may heighten racial disparities

As the heathcare industry works to address racial disparities and identify its causes, a new study published in Medical Care indicates missed nursing care may have something to do with it.

The study looked at the data of 69,000 black and white patients who experienced an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and sought care at 253 hospitals across three states between 2006 and 2007. Researchers then categorized each hospital according to the frequency with which time ran out for nurses to complete necessary care tasks.

They determined older black patients were more likely to be hospitalized at organizations with higher rates of missed care. Of several subcategories of missed care, not receiving medications in a timely manner was the one most strongly associated with readmissions, with odds of patients returning to the hospital increasing 26 percent for affected black patients.

However, researchers also found minimal association between readmissions and other forms of unmet care, such as level of patient education and discharge planning, and that unmet care had little effect on older white patients' readmission rates.

"Our findings suggest that older Black AMI patients endure greater consequences when nursing tasks are left incomplete," researchers wrote in the study. "Any efforts to reduce readmission disparities must include investments to ensure that nurses who work on the frontlines of care can attend to the complex social and healthcare needs of this population."

To learn more:
- read the study