Racial/ethnic disparities in emergency department waiting time for stroke patients in the United States

Sudeep J Karve, Rajesh Balkrishnan, Yousef M Mohammad, Deborah A Levine
Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases: the Official Journal of National Stroke Association 2011, 20 (1): 30-40
Emergency department waiting time (EDWT), the time from arrival at the ED to evaluation by an emergency physician, is a critical component of acute stroke care. We assessed racial/ethnic differences in EDWT in a national sample of patients with ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. We identified 543 ED visits for ischemic stroke (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification [ICD-9-CM] codes 433.x1, 434.xx, and 436.xx) and hemorrhagic stroke (ICD-9-CM codes 430.xx, 431.xx, and 432.xx) in persons age ≥ 18 years representing 2.1 million stroke-related ED visits in the United States using the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for years 1997-2000 and 2003-2005. Using linear regression (outcome, log-transformed EDWT) and logistic regression (outcome, EDWT > 10 minutes, based on National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke guidelines), we adjusted associations between EDWT and race/ethnicity (non-Hispanic whites [designated whites herein], non-Hispanic blacks [blacks], and Hispanics) for age, sex, region, mode of transportation, insurance, hospital characteristics, triage status, hospital admission, stroke type, and survey year. Compared with whites, blacks had a longer EDWT in univariate analysis (67% longer, P = .03) and multivariate analysis (62% longer, P = .03), but Hispanics had a similar EDWT in both univariate analysis (31% longer, P = .65) and multivariate analysis (5% longer, P = .91). Longer EDWT was also seen with nonambulance mode of arrival, urban hospitals, or nonemergency triage. Race was significantly associated with EDWT > 10 minutes (whites, 55% [referent]; blacks, 70% [P = .03]; Hispanics, 62% [P = .53]). These differences persisted after adjustment (blacks: odds ratio [OR] = 2.08, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.05-4.09; Hispanics: OR = 1.07, 95% CI = 0.52-2.22). Blacks, but not Hispanics, had significantly longer EDWT than whites. The longer EDWT in black stroke patients may lead to treatment delays and sub-optimal stroke care.

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