Health News Roundup

Racially biased test kept Black patients from receiving kidney transplants, and more in this week’s roundup

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Nursing workforce is becoming more diverse
Maya Goldman, Axios, April 1
America’s nursing workforce has become more diverse over the past 15 years, but underrepresentation remains a problem in a field struggling with burnout and racism. That’s according to a new survey that shows Black registered nurses made up 11% of the workforce in 2022, up from 8% in 2018. However, Black and Hispanic nurses are still underrepresented compared to the U.S. population. Many studies have emphasized the need to diversify the field of health providers, suggesting that doing so could lead to reduced health disparities and more culturally competent care, which can improve patient outcomes.

A biased test kept thousands of Black people from getting a kidney transplant. It’s finally changing
Lauren Neergaard, The Associated Press, April 1
After waiting four years for a new kidney, Jazmin Evans was told she should’ve been put on the transplant list much sooner, and that a racially biased organ test was to blame. She is among more than 14,000 Black kidney transplant candidates who have been given credit for lost waiting time, after steps were taken to mitigate the racial inequity. The once widely used test overestimated how well Black people’s kidneys were functioning, making them look healthier than they really were — all because of an automated formula that calculated results for Black and non-Black patients differently.

Certain US populations are more likely to get long COVID. Yale researchers are examining why
Sujata Srinivasan, Connecticut Public Radio, April 3
Two of the country’s top researchers on post-COVID conditions found that being middle aged, female, and having had a severely acute COVID-19 infection is associated with long COVID. The Yale School of Medicine researchers are still trying to figure out why. “What was it about people’s age, sex, race, ethnicity — how was that associated with long COVID?” said Dr. Harlan Krumholz. The findings also showed that people living in rural areas and people without college degrees had an increased risk of developing long COVID. Black Americans and non-Hispanic Asians were less likely to report long COVID compared to non-Hispanic white people.

LGBT adults more likely to experience discrimination in the exam room
Jason Millman, Axios, April 3
According to a new survey, 1 in 3 LGBT adults say a health care provider has disrespected or treated them unfairly. That is twice the rate of adults who don’t identify as LGBT. The survey also found that these negative interactions were leading to worse health outcomes. Some respondents said the experiences made them less likely to seek out care or led them to switch providers. Experiences of discrimination could also exacerbate mental health issues among LGBT adults.

Bringing dental care to kids in schools is helping take care of teeth neglected in the pandemic
Michael Casey, The Associated Press, April 4
A cavity prevention program developed by the NYU College of Dentistry is rolling out portable clinics in New Hampshire with hopes to eventually expand nationwide. The clinics bring dental care to children right at school. It is part of a growing effort to improve pediatric oral health, especially in children from lower-income families. Nearly half of all U.S. children don’t receive regular dental care, according to a 2022 report. Many mobile and school-based clinics often face challenges with sustainability, because they depend heavily on donations. These clinics often serve low-income populations who are either uninsured or on Medicaid.