Georgetown University


Racial Disparity in Care for D.C. Stroke Patients Not Due to Bias

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A new study shows that the disparity in care for D.C.’s black and white stroke patients isn’t due to institutional bias, but addressing the problem may involve “culturally tailored” outreach programs.

Georgetown University researchers found that African-American patients in the District were one-third less likely than white patients to receive tPA, the medicine needed to treat the most common type of stroke. Dr. Chelsea Kidwell, medical director of the Georgetown University Stroke Center, authored the study. WAMU reports:

Among the reasons African-Americans are not receiving tPA as often, Kidwell says, “is that the African-American population does not get to the hospital in time. They don’t call 911.”

Also, Kidwell says, African-American patients are more likely to have existing medical conditions, like high blood pressure, that would make tPA unsafe for them.

“[In] patients who do arrive in time and are eligible for treatment, there in fact is no racial disparity,” she says. “So our finding is important in showing that there’s no institutional or medical care bias in treating patients.”

About 75 percent of black stroke patients interviewed in the study called a friend or relative before calling 911. And nearly half of those who received delayed care reported it was because they didn’t think the symptoms were serious.