Does Poverty Affect Quality of Care in Hospitals?

Posted on January 06, 2016 by Shapiro Law Group


Access to quality health care has been a longstanding problem in America, but the issue is more severe for people with less income. Recent research suggests people living in poorer urban areas of the country have a more difficult time receiving care at hospitals.

An article published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shows us the magnitude of this problem. According to the newspaper, there are presently 46 percent fewer hospitals operating in poorer urban areas than in 1970. Many of these hospitals have shut down due to poor efficiency or lack of funding, and as a consequence, people living in these areas have worse health outcomes.

In addition to lacking access to health care, poorer communities are more likely to have ineffective hospitals. According to a study led by the Harvard School of Public Health, the worst hospitals in the U.S. treat the poorest patients.

Poverty Can Have Consequences on Patient Outcomes

Lack of access to hospitals and poor quality of care could be responsible for a higher rate of patient deaths. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, the premature death rate in poorer urban areas is 39 percent higher than in wealthier locations. People living in poorer urban areas are more likely to have disabilities, face exposure from toxins such as lead and be exposed to physical violence. The people who are in most need of health care are lacking access and quality.

Although there is no income ceiling for receiving health care in the U.S., poorer hospital patients are more likely to have negative outcomes. In some emergencies, such as a heart attack, it is imperative that people receive immediate medical attention. With fewer nearby hospitals, it is easy to see how poorer residents are affected by this dilemma.

Tags: HospitalSafety


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