The orthopaedic community has been aware of racial disparities in care delivery for two decades. The phenomenon has been most clearly elucidated in joint replacement surgery, but in the May 18, 2016 edition of The Journal, Dy et al. confirm that the issue is also at play in hip fracture care.
The authors analyzed the prospectively collected records of nearly 200,000 New York State residents who underwent hip fracture surgery between 1998 and 2010. After multivariable adjustment for factors such as patient characteristics and hospital/surgeon volume, Dy et al. found that black patients were at significantly greater risk for delayed surgery, a reoperation, readmission, and 1-year in-hospital mortality than white patients. The authors also found that patients covered by Medicaid (a marker for low socioeconomic status) were at increased risk for delayed hip-fracture surgery.
It is time for the orthopaedic community to develop an organized strategy to deal with this important social issue. Recruitment into the ranks of orthopaedists of underrepresented minorities, enhanced cultural-sensitivity training, and culturally relevant patient and family educational materials may begin to address the situation. Perhaps the AAOS, the AOA, and the J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society could convene a meeting to develop such a strategic plan? I am confident we can begin to reduce racial and socioeconomic disparities if we put our collective minds to it.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD