Context: Racial differences in survival have not been previously studied after in-hospital cardiac arrest, an event for which access to care is not likely to influence treatment.
Objectives: To estimate racial differences in survival for patients with in-hospital cardiac arrests and examine the association of sociodemographic and clinical factors and the admitting hospital with racial differences in survival.
Design, setting, and patients: Cohort study of 10,011 patients with cardiac arrests due to ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia enrolled between January 1, 2000, and February 29, 2008, at 274 hospitals within the National Registry of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.
Main outcome measures: Survival to hospital discharge; successful resuscitation from initial arrest and postresuscitation survival (secondary outcome measures).
Results: Included were 1883 black patients (18.8%) and 8128 white patients (81.2%). Rates of survival to discharge were lower for black patients (25.2%) than for white patients (37.4%) (unadjusted relative rate [RR], 0.73; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.67-0.79). Unadjusted racial differences narrowed after adjusting for patient characteristics (adjusted RR, 0.81 [95% CI, 0.75-0.88]; P < .001) and diminished further after additional adjustment for hospital site (adjusted RR, 0.89 [95% CI, 0.82-0.96]; P = .002). Lower rates of survival to discharge for blacks reflected lower rates of both successful resuscitation (55.8% vs 67.4% for whites; unadjusted RR, 0.84 [95% CI, 0.81-0.88]) and postresuscitation survival (45.2% vs 55.5% for whites; unadjusted RR, 0.85 [95% CI, 0.79-0.91]). Adjustment for the hospital site at which patients received care explained a substantial portion of the racial differences in successful resuscitation (adjusted RR, 0.92 [95% CI, 0.88-0.96]; P < .001) and eliminated the racial differences in postresuscitation survival (adjusted RR, 0.99 [95% CI, 0.92-1.06]; P = .68).
Conclusions: Black patients with in-hospital cardiac arrest were significantly less likely to survive to discharge than white patients, with lower rates of survival during both the immediate resuscitation and postresuscitation periods. Much of the racial difference was associated with the hospital center in which black patients received care.