SPOTLIGHT: Study examines causes of racial disparities in healthcare

If socioeconomic status isn't a primary driver of racial disparities in healthcare, what is? In trying to figure out why white patients receive better hospital care than those of other ethnicities, researches from Yale University's School of Public Health and the Urban Institute looked at more than 130,000 patients who underwent one of 10 different surgical procedures at various New York City hospitals between 2001 and 2004. The study, which was published in Monday's Archives of Surgery, determined that white patients received more frequent care from both high-volume surgeons and high-volume hospitals for all 10 surgeries--which included procedures for breast cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer, according to the Los Angeles Times' health blog Booster Shots. One theory is that white patients "have access to better-informed referral networks," and thus have a greater chance of being referred to high-volume doctors and facilities, according to the researchers. Article