Black Hospital Patients More Likely To Discharge Themselves Against Doctor's Advice

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Blacks are more likely than whites and Hispanics to opt for a "self-discharge" from a hospital against the advice of doctors, according to a report to be published in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health, Reuters Health reports.

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For the report, Said Ibrahim of the Veterans Administration Pittsburgh Healthcare System and colleagues examined three million hospital discharges from 2002. Overall, 1.4% of the patients opted to discharge themselves. In comparison with whites, blacks were 35% more likely to self-discharge, according to the study. The disparity remained, even after researchers accounted for possible contributing factors such as income and insurance.

The study also found that Hispanics were 10% less likely than whites to self-discharge.

Researchers speculated that blacks' distrust of doctors and the health care system partly explains the findings, although the reasoning is not completely clear. In some cases, the patients were concerned with missing work or finding care for children, researchers noted (Reuters Health, 10/31).

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