Health News Roundup

Black Americans underrepresented in residential care, and more in this week’s roundup

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Black Americans are underrepresented in residential care communities
Carson Gerber, Nicky Forster, and Devi Shastri, The Associated Press, May 23
Black Americans are less likely to use residential care communities, such as assisted-living facilities, and more likely to live in nursing homes. The opposite is true for white Americans. Experts said the decision of where to place a loved one is driven in part by personal and cultural preferences, but also insurance coverage and physical location of residential care communities. Older Black Americans may be left out of living situations that can create community and prevent isolation. Black Americans make up 9.1% of the U.S. population over 65, but only 4.9% of those in residential care communities.

Sickle cell patients pressured to undergo unwanted sterilizations
Eric Boodman, STAT News, May 21
Whitney Carter suffers from sickle cell disease and was seven months pregnant when her doctor told her it would be best to tie her tubes while performing her c-section. “I just felt like, I guess this is for the best. But it wasn’t the best for me. I guess it was the best for them, because they didn’t have to deal with another sickle cell patient coming into their office saying they’re pregnant,” she said. She is one of many sickle cell patients who describe similar stories of feeling pressure to get sterilized, not receiving accurate information, and not being given other less invasive options.

In military medicine, study shows rank and race affect care
Usha Lee McFarling, STAT News, May 16
A new analysis found that higher ranking military officers receive more resources and better care than low ranking military officers. It also found that white physicians expended less effort on Black patients, even when rank was taken into account. “Simply being Black significantly reduces the effort provided by white physicians,” wrote the study authors. Overall, higher-ranking patients were 15% less likely than lower-ranking patients to have a poor outcome. Study authors said while their research was conducted within a military context, their findings might be generalizable to health care for other populations and speculated that disparities may be worse in those settings.

US race-neutral lung assessments to have profound effects, study finds 
Nancy Lapid, Reuters, May 19
A guideline for U.S. doctors to ignore race in assessing lung health will likely have effects beyond the intended improvements in medical care. A new study found that the rule could also help increase disability payments and disease diagnoses for Black patients but also increase their job disqualifications. The new race-neutral equations for determining lung function aim to correct long-standing inequities. However, the study estimates it will reclassify 12.5 million U.S. patients as having or not having various degrees of breathing impairment.

CT patients are waiting days in emergency rooms for a hospital bed. Lawmakers want to know why
Sujata Srinivasan, Connecticut Public Radio, May 23
In emergency rooms across Connecticut, patients are facing increasingly long wait times. Federal data shows a typical ER visit now lasts more than three hours. Hospitals said there are several reasons why, including a shortage in skilled nursing, home care, and rehab that delays moving patients out of the hospital. A bill passed by the state legislature this year will require hospitals to start reporting information in 2025 about back-ups in the emergency department, including the number of patients in the ER, and wait times.