Bmj Usa: Editorial

Racial/ethnic disparities in medical care

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 19 November 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:E227
  1. Drew Altman, president (,
  2. Marsha Lillie-Blanton, vice president in health policy (
  1. The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation

    Engaging physicians in the dialogue

    From BMJ USA 2003;June:300

    Last year, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released the report Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, which concluded, based on an extensive review of the literature, that racial and ethnic disparities in patient care occur among similarly insured groups.1 One study of Medicare beneficiaries, for example, found that black patients with early stage lung cancer were nearly half as likely as whites to undergo surgery and had lower five-year survival rates.2 Another study found that Latino patients who had undergone diagnostic angiography were 40% less likely than whites to undergo coronary bypass surgery.3 A study that identified patients considered appropriate candidates for renal transplantation found that the procedure occurred among 17% of black patients and 52% of white patients.4 While the evidence varies for specific conditions and racial/ethnic minority groups, the data sufficiently compel us to begin undertaking actions to systematically and aggressively eliminate disparities in needed medical care.

    This …

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