Black residents more likely to be hospitalized, researchers say

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Black nursing home residents are one-third more likely to be hospitalized than their white counterparts, according to university researchers who analyzed data on more than 500,000 residents and 9,000 facilities recently.

Nearly a quarter (24.1%) of black residents were hospitalized in the study period (2000 onward), while 18.5% of white residents were hospitalized during the same span. Researchers associated with Brown University's Albert Medical School said conditions ranged from pressure ulcers to dehydration and malnutrition.

"The percentage of residents who had to be hospitalized was strongly correlated with the residents on Medicaid, which also was strongly tied to facilities with limited resources," said lead study author Andrea Gruneir. Her report, which is to appear in the June issue of the journal Health Services Research, concludes the racial admissions differences could be lessened by devoting more resources to facilities that most rely on Medicaid funding.

Janet Wells, director of public policy for the National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, however, called the disparities "a civil rights issue," according to a report in the Washington Post.

"A lot of nursing homes with Medicaid residents are good nursing homes. We see them all over the country," she said.