ER wait times longer for Hispanic people with chest pain, study finds

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Hispanic patients with potential heart problems wait longer for care in hospital emergency rooms, according to a new study. Photo by paulbr75/Pixabay

Hispanic adults in the United States who visit hospital emergency rooms complaining of chest pain wait longer to receive treatment than those of other racial and ethnic groups, a study presented Friday found.

Nationally, people of Hispanic descent waited 39% longer than people of all other races or ethnicities to be taken care of by healthcare professionals in emergency rooms, according to data presented Friday during a meeting of researchers hosted by the American Heart Association.

This included longer waits for further testing, 24-hour observation, hospital admission or ER discharge, the researchers said.

On average, Hispanic adults wait 99 minutes for these and other services compared with an average of 71 minutes for those of other races and ethnicities, according to the researchers.

Although Hispanic adults were admitted to the hospital slightly more often than people of all other races or ethnicities, they waited nearly twice as long as others — 86 minutes versus 44 minutes — for that, the data showed.

Hispanic people represented less than 5% of all people who arrived in the ER complaining of chest pain during the study’s one-year period, and they tended to be younger and have lower blood pressure than others, the researchers said.

In addition, Hispanic people were nearly three times more likely than people from any other racial or ethnic groups to be uninsured, and Hispanic women were 58% more likely to visit the ER with chest pain than Hispanic men, according to the researchers.

“Even with continued efforts to eliminate disparities and achieve health equity, our research confirms Hispanic people continue to face significant barriers to health care,” Dr. Katiria Pintor Jimenez, a co-author of the study, said in a press release.

“Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms of presentation in the emergency room,’ said Pintor Jimenez, an internal medicine resident at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Racial and ethnic health care disparities contribute greatly to overall health, risk for death and healthcare costs related to heart disease and stroke, research indicates.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death across almost all ethnic groups in the United States, including Hispanic people who represent the largest and fastest growing ethnic population nationally, according to the American Heart Association.

The findings of this study are based on an analysis of more than 11,000 medical records of people arriving at the emergency room at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta n 2020 with a chief symptom of chest pain, the researchers said.

“Our findings suggest that Hispanic people with chest pain may experience unwarranted delays in the emergency department and in receiving overall medical care in the hospital,” Pintor said.

“Contributing factors in delayed care among Hispanic people may include language barriers, cultural values and behavior, immigration status, the lack of health insurance or a lack of Hispanic healthcare professionals who can better promote healthcare equity,” she said.

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