Evaluate racial disparities in sepsis processes of care.Design:
Observational cohort study.Setting:
Nine hospitals in the Southeastern United States between 2014 and 2016.Patients:
Two thousand two hundred twenty-one white and 707 black patients treated in the emergency department through “code sepsis” pathway for suspected septic shock.Measurements and Main Results:
Black patients were less likely to receive timely antibiotics than were white patients using multiple definitions (1 hr from code sepsis activation [odds ratio, 0.57; 95% CI, [0.44–0.74]; 85.6% vs. 91.2%; p < 0.0001]; 1 hr from triage [odds ratio, 0.83; 95% CI, [0.69–1.00]; 28.0% vs. 31.8%; p = 0.06]; 3 hr from triage [odds ratio, 0.71; 95% CI, [0.57–0.88]; 80.1% vs. 85.0%; p = 0.002]). Focusing on antibiotic administration within 1 hour of triage, these differences were enhanced after adjusting for patient-level factors (adjusted odds ratio, 0.80; 95% CI, [0.66–0.96]; p = 0.02), but attenuated after adjusting for hospital-level differences (adjusted odds ratio, 0.90; 95% CI, [0.81–1.01]; p = 0.07). Black and white patients did not differ on other sepsis quality indicators or adjusted mortality.Conclusions:
Black patients appear to be less likely than white patients to receive timely antibiotic therapy for sepsis. These differences were largely explained by variation in care among hospitals, such that hospitals that disproportionately treat black patients were less likely to provide timely antibiotic therapy overall. There were no differences between races in other sepsis quality measures or adjusted mortality.