Objectives: To understand baseline inequities in appendiceal perforation rates and the impact of hurricane destruction on the healthcare system with respect to perforation rates and racial disparities.
Methods: We used claims data extracted from Medicaid Analytic Extract files to identify appendicitis diagnoses in children and adolescents based on International Classification of Diseases-9 codes and appendectomy procedures based on Current Procedural Terminology codes in the hurricane-affected states of Mississippi and Louisiana. County-level summary data obtained from 2005 Area Resource Files were used to determine high and low hurricane-affected areas. We estimated logistic regression models, mutually adjusting for race, sex, and age, to examine disparities and mixed logistic regression models to determine whether county-level effects contributed to perforation rates.
Results: There were nine counties in the high-impact area and 133 counties in the low-impact area. Living in the high- or low-impact area was not associated with a statistically different rate of perforation before or after Hurricane Katrina; however, living in the high-impact area was associated with a change from a lower risk (odds ratio [OR] 0.62) of perforation prehurricane to a higher risk (OR 1.14) posthurricane compared with those living in the low-impact areas. African Americans had statistically higher perforation rates than whites in the high-impact areas both before (OR 1.46) and after (OR 1.71) Hurricane Katrina.
Conclusions: Health professionals and hospital systems were able to maintain effective levels of care before and after Hurricane Katrina; however, perforation rates in African Americans suggest ongoing racial disparities during disasters.