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Keywords:

  • mortality;
  • racial and ethnic disparities;
  • VA quality;
  • veterans

Abstract: Where minorities receive their care may contribute to disparities in care, yet, the racial concentration of care in the Veterans Health Administration is largely unknown. We sought to better understand which Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals treat Black veterans and whether location of care impacted disparities. We assessed differences in mortality rates between Black and White veterans across 150 VA hospitals for any of six conditions (acute myocardial infarction, hip fracture, stroke, congestive heart failure, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, and pneumonia) between 1996 and 2002. Just 9 out of 150 VA hospitals (6% of all VA hospitals) cared for nearly 30% of Black veterans, and 42 hospitals (28% of all VA hospitals) cared for more than 75% of Black veterans. While our findings show that overall mortality rates were comparable between minority-serving and non-minority-serving hospitals for four conditions, mortality rates were higher in minority-serving hospitals for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and pneumonia. The ratio of mortality rates for Blacks compared with Whites was comparable across all VA hospitals. In contrast to the private sector, there is little variation in the degree of racial disparities in 30-day mortality across VA hospitals, although higher mortality among patients with AMI and pneumonia requires further investigation.