Most Health Outcomes Following Surgery Are Worse For Low-Income Patients, New AHRQ Study Shows
A new AHRQ study of 12 measures of outcomes following surgical procedures found that outcomes for patients from both high- and low-income geographic areas improved between 2000 and 2009. In fact, survival following two surgical procedures—coronary angioplasty and carotid endarterectomy—improved for both high- and low-income patients, and the disparity between the two groups narrowed. However, in nine of the remaining 10 outcomes studied, patients from low-income areas fared worse than patients from high-income areas across both years. For example, low-income patients had significantly increased risks for postoperative complications involving respiratory failure and lower survival rates following abdominal aortic aneurysm repair and coronary artery bypass graft. Prior research has shown that low-income patients were more likely to be either uninsured or covered by Medicaid as well as belong to a racial or ethnic minority group, the study said, noting that those characteristics were associated with poorer surgical outcomes. Theabstract and study, “Despite Overall Improvement in Surgical Outcomes Since 2000, Income-Related Disparities Persist,” co-authored by AHRQ’s Roxanne Andrews and Mehwish Qasim, a doctoral candidate at the University of Iowa, appeared in the October issue of Health Affairs.