Do Disparities in Wait Times to Operative Fixation for Pathologic Fractures of the Long Bones and 30-day Complications Exist Between Black and White Patients? A Study Using the NSQIP Database.Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2022 01 01; 480(1):57-63.CO
Racial disparities in outcomes after orthopaedic surgery have been well-documented in the fields of arthroplasty, trauma, and spine surgery; however, little research has assessed differences in outcomes after surgery for oncologic musculoskeletal disease. If racial disparities exist in the treatment of patients with pathologic long bone fractures, then they should be identified and addressed to promote equity in patient care.
(1) How do wait times between hospital admission and operative fixation for pathologic fractures of long bones differ between Black and non-Hispanic white patients, after controlling for confounding variables using propensity score matching? (2) How does the proportion of patients with 30-day postoperative complication differ between these groups after controlling for confounding variables using propensity score matching?
Using the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database, we analyzed 828 patients who underwent fixation for pathologic fractures from 2012 to 2018. This database not only provides a large enough sample of pathologic long bone fracture patients to conduct the present study, but also it contains variables such as time from hospitalization to surgery that other national databases do not. After excluding patients with incomplete data (4% of the initial cohort), 775 patients were grouped by self-reported race as Black (12% ) or white (88% ). Propensity score matching using a 1:1 nearest-neighbor match was then used to match 94 Black patients with 94 white patients according to age, gender, BMI, American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status classification, anemia, endstage renal disease, independence in performing activities of daily living, congestive heart failure, and pulmonary disease. The primary outcome of interest was the number of days between hospital admission and operative fixation, which we assessed using a Poisson regression and report as an incidence risk ratio. The secondary outcomes were the occurrences of major 30-day postoperative adverse events (failure to wean off mechanical ventilation, cerebrovascular events, renal failure, cardiovascular events, reoperation, death), minor 30-day adverse events (reintubation, wound complications, pneumonia, and thromboembolic events), and any 30-day adverse events (defined as the pooling of all adverse events, including readmissions). These outcomes were analyzed using a bivariate analysis and logistic regression with robust estimates of variance and are reported as odds ratios. Because any results on disparities rely on rigorous control of other baseline demographics, we performed this multivariable approach to ensure we were controlling for confounding variables as much as possible.
After controlling for potentially confounding variables such as age and gender, we found that Black patients had a longer mean wait time (incidence risk ratio 1.5 [95% CI 1.1 to 2.1]; p = 0.01) than white patients. After controlling for confounding variables, Black patients also had greater odds of having any postoperative adverse event (OR 2.1 [95% CI 1.1 to 3.8]; p = 0.02), including readmission (OR 3.3 [95% CI 1.5 to 7.6]; p = 0.004).
The racial disparities in pathologic long bone fracture care found in our study may be attributed to fundamental racial biases, as well as systemic socioeconomic disparities in the US healthcare system. Identifying and eliminating the racial, socioeconomic, and sociocultural biases that drive these disparities would improve care for patients with orthopaedic oncologic conditions. One possible way to reduce these disparities would be to implement standardized surgical care pathways for pathological long bone fractures across different institutions to minimize variation in important aspects of care, such as time to surgical fixation. Further insight is needed on the types of standardized care pathways and the implementation mechanisms that are most effective.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Level III, therapeutic study.