As we age, our health becomes more fragile and our bodies become more susceptible to complications. Unfortunately, this risk is amplified for older Black men who undergo surgery. A study conducted by the University of Virginia School of Medicine found that Black men over the age of 50 have a significantly higher risk of post-operative mortality than white men. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind this disparity and discuss possible solutions.
The study, which was published in JAMA Surgery, analyzed data from over 1.4 million Medicare beneficiaries who underwent one of 34 different surgical procedures between 2011 and 2014. The researchers found that Black men over the age of 50 were 21% more likely to die within 30 days of surgery than white men. The study also found that Black men were more likely to have serious post-operative complications, such as pneumonia, sepsis, and acute renal failure.
Why is this Happening?
There are several factors that contribute to this disparity in post-operative mortality rates. One of the main factors is access to quality healthcare. Black men are more likely to live in areas with a shortage of healthcare providers, which can lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment. They are also more likely to have lower incomes and less access to health insurance, which can make it difficult to afford medical care.
Another factor is implicit bias in healthcare. Studies have shown that healthcare providers often have unconscious biases that can affect the quality of care they provide to Black patients. These biases can lead to lower quality care and misdiagnosis, which can ultimately lead to worse outcomes.
In addition, Black men are more likely to have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, which can make surgery riskier. These conditions can lead to complications during and after surgery, which can increase the risk of mortality.
So what can be done to address this disparity in post-operative mortality rates? One solution is to increase access to quality healthcare for Black men. This can be achieved by investing in healthcare infrastructure in underserved communities and expanding access to health insurance.
Another solution is to address implicit bias in healthcare. This can be done by providing training to healthcare providers on how to recognize and overcome their biases. Hospitals and clinics can also implement policies and procedures to reduce bias, such as standardized protocols for diagnosing and treating patients.
Finally, it’s important to focus on preventative care for chronic health conditions. By managing these conditions before surgery, the risk of complications can be reduced. This can be achieved through regular check-ups, medication management, and lifestyle changes such as exercise and healthy eating.
The disparity in post-operative mortality rates between Black men and white men is a serious issue that requires attention and action. By increasing access to quality healthcare, addressing implicit bias, and focusing on preventative care, we can reduce the risk of complications and improve outcomes for all patients, regardless of their race or ethnicity. It’s time to take action and ensure that all patients receive the best possible care, regardless of their background.