Clinical Citations: Race and asthma: Evaluating differences in in-hospital mortality

November 1, 2006

Although the overall rates of asthma-related hospitalization and death are about 2.5 to 5 times higher among black than white patients, it has not been known whether hospital deaths also are increased in black patients with asthma exacerbations. Investigators from Johns Hopkins who studied this issue found there were no significant race differences in hospital deaths.

Although the overall rates of asthma-related hospitalization and death are about 2.5 to 5 times higher among black than white patients, it has not been known whether hospital deaths also are increased in black patients with asthma exacerbations. Investigators from Johns Hopkins who studied this issue found there were no significant race differences in hospital deaths.

The study used the nationwide inpatient sample for admissions for asthma exacerbations in 2000 and included patients aged 5 years or older. Mortality among patients hospitalized for asthma exacerbations made up one third of all deaths from asthma. In-hospital asthma mortality was 0.5%, with a mean hospital stay of 2.7 days and $9078 in hospital charges.

Although bivariate analyses indicated that the hospital mortality rate was lower in black than in white patients (0.3% versus 0.6%), multivariate analyses demonstrated that there were no significant differences in mortality. The investigators concluded that the higher overall risk of death from asthma in black patients cannot be explained by race differences in hospital deaths and may be the result of factors that precede hospitalization.