Objective: To examine the relationship of patients' socioeconomic status (SES) as measured by race, health insurance status, and median income by zip code to in-hospital mortality of acute myocardial infarction (AMI), paying special attention to patients with multiple unfavorable socioeconomic risk factors.
Data sources/study setting: The data set was abstracted from patient-level hospital discharges in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, Release 3, 1994. A total of 95,971 AMI discharges in 11 states were extracted.
Study design: The risk adjustment methodology was adapted from the California Hospital Outcomes Project. Risk factors included demographic and clinical characteristics. Patients in double jeopardy had inferior insurance status and lived in poorer neighborhoods.
Principal findings: Compared with patients with health care coverage under Medicare and private insurance uninsured AMI patients had the highest risk-adjusted mortality odds and Medicaid AMI patients had the second highest odds. Probably because of the modest association of median income by zip code areas with mortality odds, the double jeopardy phenomenon was not observed. However, compared to patients who had two favorable SES attributes, patients who carried two unfavorable SES attributes had much higher mortality risk, more comorbidities, longer length of stay, and higher total hospital charges, while they received fewer AMI specialized procedures. Race did not seem to be a significant factor after adjustment for other SES attributes.
Conclusions: SES is significantly related to the mortality of AMI patients. The disadvantaged patients receive fewer specialized procedures, possibly because of their higher levels of severity and financial barriers. The variation in mortality between patients who had favorable and unfavorable SES becomes wider when multiple socioeconomic risks are borne by the latter.