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Study by American Academy of Pediatrics reveals African American children three times more likely experience postoperative death and complications.
It’s long been known that Black patients are more likely to suffer poor outcomes after surgery than white patients – but the new study suggests the disparity also exists among healthy children. Among more than 172,500 apparently healthy kids who had inpatient operations between 2012 and 2017, 0.02% of children died within 30 days of surgery and 13.9% had postoperative complications.
Yet African American children fared worse than their white peers. For example, about 16.9% of African American children developed postoperative complications, compared with 13.8% of white children. About 6.2% of African American kids had a serious adverse event like cardiac arrest, sepsis, hospital readmission or re-operative procedures, compared with 5.7% of white kids.
Notably, 0.07% of African American children and 0.02% of white children died within 30 days of surgery. Although mortality was extremely low overall, the disparity means African American children were 3.48 times as likely to die than white children.
“Generally, we expect that healthier patients should do well with surgeries. Healthy kids have low complication rates,” Dr. Olubukola Nafiu, the study’s lead author, a pediatric anesthesiologist and vice chair for academic affairs and research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said in a statement.