Patients’ race made no difference to ICU outcomes during 1st wave of US pandemic, study finds

Patients’ race made no difference to ICU outcomes during 1st wave of US pandemic, study finds

A new study conducted by Intensive Care Unit (ICU) specialists at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital has found that, contrary to popular narratives, race did not factor into treatment outcomes for Covid-19 patients.

Numerous US studies throughout the pandemic found that minority populations, most notably black and hispanic, had higher rates of severe Covid-19 infections resulting in hospitalisations and, lamentably, higher rates of mortality. 

This new study from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit has found that this was not the case. 

“What we wanted to look at was, once patients are in the ICU, does that same racial disproportion occur. And the answer is no,” said Michael Lazar, study lead author and critical care specialist at Henry Ford. 

“The care we deliver is essentially the same and race makes no difference.”

The Henry Ford researchers examined 365 Covid-19 patients aged 18 and above who had been admitted to the ICU between March 13 and July 31 last year.

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The patients were divided into two groups: the white group and minority group, which included black, Asian, Latino and Arab patients. 

Of those patients studied, 219 were Black, 129 were White, eight were Hispanic/Latino, seven were Arab and two were Asian, while 205 patients were men and 160 women.

The people-of-color group were, on average, slightly younger, at 62.8 years, compared to 67.1 years in the white group. 

Across all groups, overall mortality was 50%, while some 75% required ventilation, and most patients received early steroid intervention but this was not a significant predictor of overall mortality. 

The researchers state that race was not a factor in overall hospital mortality, patients’ length of stay in the ICU or the rate of ventilator interventions.

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Detroit was among the hardest hit cities in the US during the first wave of the pandemic, and its population is overwhelmingly black (over 77%).

“What we do in the intensive care is driven by protocol and everyone is approached similarly,” said Jeffrey Jennings, critical care physician and study senior author. 

Comorbidities, or underlying conditions, identified among patients in the study included, but were not limited to, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

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