Health News Roundup

Studies find disparities in hospital restraint use, and more in this week’s roundup

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Poor, Black men more likely to be restrained in CT emergency rooms, studies find
Jordan Nathaniel Fenster, CT Insider, Feb. 20
Using their own hospital’s data, Connecticut doctors have published a series of studies showing that patients in the emergency room are more likely to be chemically or physically restrained if they are poor, Black or male. The trend is true for children, too. The findings are in line with other studies that have found people of color experience disparate treatment in health care. The next step, experts say, is to use the data to change practices.

HUSKY insurance is ‘unwinding’ in CT. Here’s what to know 
Katy Golvala, The Connecticut Mirror, Feb. 21
The federal government is ending a policy issued as part of the COVID-19 public health emergency that guaranteed continuous Medicaid coverage to more than 430,000 state residents. Typically, people who receive Medicaid, known as HUSKY in Connecticut, go through an annual process to determine if they still qualify, and those who don’t qualify lose coverage. During the pandemic, federal policy prevented states from kicking people off Medicaid. On March 31, that policy will end, starting a year-long process in which everyone whose Medicaid coverage was extended will need to reevaluate their eligibility. 

Advocates: Medicaid rates leave CT kids without autism services
Ginny Monk, The Connecticut Mirror, Feb. 20
Federal law requires that kids with autism diagnoses receive “timely and adequate medically necessary services.” But providers and advocates say Medicaid payment rates for autism behavioral services are too low in Connecticut, making it harder for families covered by Medicaid to find care. “Kids with autism and other developmental and intellectual disabilities are really underserved,” said Sarah Eagan, Connecticut’s child advocate. “No one has ever pushed back on that — everyone acknowledges that.”

Tools to predict stroke risk work less well for Black patients, study finds
Ambar Castillo, STAT, Feb. 22
Stroke risk prediction tools are meant to guide how doctors approach a potentially deadly condition and help determine which patients might benefit from a particular treatment. But a study found the tools’ accuracy was worse for Black men and women than their white peers. That means that Black Americans — who have a much higher probability of suffering from a stroke — are also less likely to get an accurate prediction of their stroke risk. Researchers are hopeful there are ways to improve stroke prediction.

Only 5.7% of US doctors are Black, and experts warn the shortage harms public health
Jacqueline Howard, CNN, Feb. 21
Research has found that Black patients have better outcomes when they’re treated by a Black doctor. But only about 5.7% of physicians in the United States identify as Black or African American, well below the 12% of the U.S. population that is Black or African American. One reason can be traced to how Black people have been “historically excluded from medicine” and the “institutional and systemic racism in our society,” said Michael Dill, director of workforce studies for the Association of American Medical Colleges.