Racial and Social Disparities in Bystander Support During Medical Emergencies on US Streets

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Abstract

Objectives

To examine rates at which people suffering medical emergencies on public streets receive help from bystanders, that is, laypersons who first arrive on the scene, and how this varies across patient race and incident locations.

Methods

We analyzed data on 22 487 patients from the 2011 National Emergency Medical Services Information System, which we linked to characteristics of counties where the incidents occurred.

Results

Bystanders provided help to patients suffering a wide range of medical emergencies, but only about 1 in 39 patients (2.57%) received bystander support. Black patients were significantly less likely to receive bystander support (odds ratio = 0.42; 95% confidence interval = 0.35, 0.50). Bystander support and county socioeconomic status have a curvilinear relationship; patients in the most disadvantaged counties are least likely to receive bystander support.

Conclusions

Help from bystanders is rare and less likely among Black patients and those in the poorest counties.

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