Background: Emergency general surgery (EGS) patients are more socioeconomically vulnerable than elective counterparts. We hypothesized that a hospital's neighborhood disadvantage is associated with vulnerability of its EGS patients.
Materials and methods: Area deprivation index (ADI), a neighborhood-level measure of disadvantage, and key characteristics of 724 hospitals in 14 states were linked to patient-level data in State Inpatient Databases. Hospital and EGS patient characteristics were compared across hospital ADI quartiles (least disadvantaged [ADI 1-25] "affluent," minimally disadvantaged [ADI 26-50] "min-da", moderately disadvantaged [ADI 51-75] "mod-da", and most disadvantaged [ADI 76-100] "impoverished") using chi2 tests and multivariable regression.
Results: Higher disadvantage hospitals are more often nonteaching (affluent = 38.9%, min-da = 53.5%, mod-da = 72.1%, and impoverished = 67.6%), nonaffiliated with medical schools (50%, 72.4%, 81.8%, and 78.8%), and in rural areas (3.3%, 9.2%, 31.2%, and 27.9%). EGS patients at higher disadvantage hospitals are more likely to be older (43.9%, 48.6%, 49.1%, and 46.6%), have >3 comorbidities (17.0%, 19.0%, 18.4%, and 19.3%), live in low-income areas (21.4%, 23.6%, 32.2%, and 42.5%), and experience complications (23.2%, 23.7%, 24.0%, and 25.2%). Rates of uninsurance/underinsurance were highest at affluent and impoverished hospitals (18.0, 16.4%, 17.7%, and 19.2%). Higher disadvantage hospitals serve fewer minorities (32.6%, 21.3%, 20.7%, and 24.0%), except in rural areas (2.9%, 6.7%, 6.5%, and 15.5%). In multivariable analyses, the impoverished hospital ADI quartile did not predict odds of serving as a safety-net or predominantly minority-serving hospital.
Conclusions: Hospitals in impoverished areas disproportionately serve underserved EGS patient populations but are less likely to have robust resources for EGS care or train future EGS surgeons. These findings have implications for measures to improve equity in EGS outcomes.
Keywords: Acute care surgery; Area deprivation index; Emergency general surgery; Safety-net hospital; Social determinants of health.
Published by Elsevier Inc.