Several studies have found that among patients testing positive for COVID-19 within a health care system, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic patients are more likely than non-Hispanic White patients to be hospitalized. However, previous studies have looked at odds of being admitted using all positive tests in the system and not only those seeking care in the emergency department (ED).
This study examined racial/ethnic differences in COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions among patients seeking care for COVID-19 in the ED.
Electronic health records (n=7549) were collected from COVID-19 confirmed patients that visited an ED of an urban health care system in the Chicago area between March 2020 and February 2021.
After adjusting for possible confounders, White patients had 2.2 times the odds of being admitted to the hospital and 1.5 times the odds of being admitted to the ICU than Black patients. There were no observed differences between White and Hispanic patients.
White patients were more likely than Black patients to be hospitalized after presenting to the ED with COVID-19 and more likely to be admitted directly to the ICU. This finding may be due to racial/ethnic differences in severity of disease upon ED presentation, racial and ethnic differences in access to COVID-19 primary care and/or implicit bias impacting clinical decision-making.