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Zheng J, Tisdale RL, Heidenreich PA, Sandhu AT. Disparities in Hospital Length of Stay Across Race and Ethnicity Among Patients With Heart Failure. Circulation. Heart failure. 2022 Nov 1; 15(11):e009362.
BACKGROUND: Reducing hospital length of stay (LOS) has been identified as an important lever for minimizing the burden of heart failure hospitalization, yet the impact of social and structural determinants of health on LOS has received little attention. We investigated disparities in LOS across race/ethnicity and their possible drivers. METHODS: We analyzed patients hospitalized for heart failure from 2017 to 2020 using the Get With The Guidelines-Heart Failure registry. We characterized LOS differences across race/ethnicity by insurance and disposition, adjusting for demographics, comorbidities, and clinical severity. Effects of hospital-level clustering on LOS across race/ethnicity were assessed using hierarchical mixed-effects models. We evaluated the association between LOS and discharge rates of guideline-directed medical therapy. RESULTS: Three thousand three seven hundred thirty patients hospitalized for heart failure were identified. After excluding inpatient deaths, the adjusted LOS for Black (5.72 days [95% CI, 5.62-5.82]), Hispanic (5.94 days [95% CI, 5.79-6.08]), and Indigenous American/Pacific Islander (6.06 days [95% CI, 5.85-6.27]) patients remained significantly longer compared with non-Hispanic White patients (5.32 days [95% CI, 5.25-5.39]). This pattern was driven by LOS differences among patients discharged to hospice or nursing facilities. After accounting for variability between hospitals, associations of race/ethnicity with LOS either were attenuated or reversed in direction. Guideline-directed medical therapy rates on discharge did not differ significantly across race/ethnicity despite longer LOS for Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous American/Pacific Islander patients. CONCLUSIONS: Differences between hospitals drive LOS disparities across race/ethnicity. Longer LOS among Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous American/Pacific Islander patients was not associated with improved quality of care.