Racial and Ethnic Differences and Clinical Outcomes of COVID-19 Patients Presenting to the Emergency Department
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Background: Since the introduction of remdesivir and dexamethasone for severe COVID-19 treatment, few large multi-hospital system US studies have described clinical characteristics and outcomes of minority COVID-19 patients who present to the emergency department (ED).
Methods: This cohort study from the Cerner Real World Database (87 US health systems) from December 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020 included PCR-confirmed COVID-19 patients who self-identified as non-Hispanic Black (Black), Hispanic White (Hispanic), or non-Hispanic White (White). The main outcome was hospitalization among ED patients. Secondary outcomes included mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit care, and in-hospital mortality. Descriptive statistics and Poisson regression compared sociodemographics, comorbidities, receipt of remdesivir, receipt of dexamethasone, and outcomes by racial/ethnic groups and geographic region.
Results: 94,683 COVID-19 patients presented to the ED. Blacks comprised 26.7% and Hispanics 33.6%. Nearly half (45.1%) of ED patients presented to hospitals in the South. 31.4% (n=29,687) were hospitalized. Lower proportions of Blacks were prescribed dexamethasone (29.4%; n=7,426) compared to Hispanics (40.9%; n=13,021) and Whites (37.5%; n=14,088). Hospitalization risks, compared to Whites, were similar in Blacks (Risk Ratio (RR)=0.94; 95% CI:0.82, 1.08; p=0.4)) and Hispanics RR=0.99 (95% CI:0.81, 1.21; p=0.91), but risk of in-hospital mortality was higher in Blacks, RR=1.18 (95% CI:1.06, 1.31; p=0.002) and Hispanics, RR=1.28 (95% CI: 1.13, 1.44; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Minority patients were overrepresented among COVID-19 ED patients, and while they had similar risks of hospitalization as Whites, in-hospital mortality risk was higher. Interventions targeting upstream social determinants of health are needed to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-19.
Keywords: COVID-19; disparities; emergency department; ethnicity; race.
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