Racial Differences in a Detroit, MI, ICU Population of Coronavirus Disease 2019 Patients

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Critical care medicine


OBJECTIVES: To investigate the potential influence of racial differences in outcomes of patients infected by coronavirus disease 2019-positive patients who require intensive care in an urban hospital.

DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.

SETTING: Henry Ford Health System Multidisciplinary ICU, a total of 156 beds spread throughout the hospital in Detroit, MI.

PATIENTS: We obtained data from the electronic medical record of all adult severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2-positive patients managed in the ICU of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI, between March 13, 2020, and July 31, 2020. Included patients were divided into two groups: people of color (including Black, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, and Arab) and White.


MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: A total of 365 patients were evaluated: 219 were Black (60.0%), 129 were White (35.3%), two were Asian (0.6%), eight were Hispanic/Latino (2.2%), and seven were Arab (1.9%). People of color were younger (62.8 vs 67.1; p = 0.007), with equal distribution of sex. People of color had less coronary artery disease (34 [14.4%] vs 35 [27.1%]; p =0.003) and less self-reported use of regular alcohol consumption (50 [21.2%] vs 12 [9.3%]; p = 0.004) than Whites, with no differences in diabetes (125 [53.0%] vs 66 [51.2%]; p = 0.742), hypertension (188 [79.7%] vs 99 [76.8%]; p = 0.516), congestive heart failure (41 [17.4%] vs 32 [24.8%]; p = 0.090), or chronic kidney disease (123 [54.1%] vs 55 [42.6%]; p = 0.083).There was no difference in ICU length of stay between people of color (18 d [CI, 7-47 d]) and Whites (18 d [CI, 6-48 d]; p = 0. 0.979). Neither frequency (72.5% vs 71.3%; p = ns) nor median time to mechanical ventilation between people of color (9 d [CI, 6-15 d]) and Whites (10 d [CI, 5-16 d]; p = 0.733) was different. Overall, 188 patients (51.5 %) died in the hospital. The 28-day mortality was lower in people of color (107/236; 45.3%) versus Whites (73/129; 56.6%) (adjusted odds ratio 0.60; p = 0.034), and there was an increased median survival time in people of color (20 d) versus Whites (13.5 d; hazard ratio 0.62; p = 0.002). The inhospital mortality was lower in people of color versus White, but the difference was not statistically significant (113 [47.9%] vs 75 [58.1%], respectively; p = 0.061). Finally, there was no significant difference in days of symptoms prior to admission, frequency of presenting symptoms, or frequency or severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome between the two groups.

CONCLUSIONS: In critically ill patients infected with coronavirus disease 2019, people of color had a lower 28-day mortality than Whites with no difference in hospital mortality, ICU length of stay, or rates of intubation. These findings are contrary to previously held beliefs surrounding the pandemic.

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