Title: Disparities in the use of emergency department advanced imaging in medicare beneficiaries
Country: United States
Age: Adult Only
Sex: All Sexes
Population: Multiple Groups
Care Setting: Emergency Department
Clinical Setting: General Diagnostic Imaging
Data Level: National
Data Type: Medicare Data
Data Source: Medicare data
Conclusion: Disparities In Some Minority Groups
Health OutComes Reported: No
Free Text Conclusion: Among Medicare beneficiaries receiving care in the U.S. emergency departments, Black patients were less likely to undergo advanced imaging than White patients.
Abstract: OBJECTIVE. The purpose of our study was to assess potential disparities in the utilization of advanced imaging during emergency department (ED) visits. MATERIALS AND METHODS. This retrospective study was conducting using 5% Research Identifiable Files. All CT and MRI (together defined as "advanced imaging") examinations associated with ED visits in 2015 were identified for continuously enrolled Medicare beneficiaries. Individuals with medical claims 30 days before the index ED event were excluded, and encounters that occurred in hospitals without advanced imaging capabilities were also excluded. Patient characteristics were identified using Medicare files and hospital characteristics using the American Hospital Association Annual Survey of Hospitals. Multivariate logistic regression was used for the analysis. RESULTS. Of 86,976 qualifying ED encounters, 52,833 (60.74%) ED encounters were for female patients; 29.03% (n = 25,245) occurred at rural hospitals and 15.81% (n = 13,750) at critical access hospitals. Race distribution was 83.13% White, 11.05% Black, and 5.82% Other. Compared with ED patients at urban hospitals, those at rural and critical access hospitals were 6.9% less likely (odds ratio [OR] = 0.931, p = 0.015) and 18.0% less likely (OR = 0.820, p < 0.0001), respectively, to undergo advanced imaging. Compared with White patients, Black patients were 31.6% less likely (OR = 0.684, p < 0.0001) to undergo advanced imaging. Relative to their urban counterparts, both White (OR = 0.941, p = 0.05) and Black (OR = 0.808, p = 0.047) rural ED patients were less likely to undergo advanced imaging. CONCLUSION. Among Medicare beneficiaries receiving care in U.S. EDs, significant disparities exist in advanced imaging utilization. Although imaging appropriateness was not investigated, these findings suggest inequity. Further research is necessary to understand why consistent health benefits do not translate into consistent imaging access among risk-adjusted ED patients.