A critical barrier to eliminating disparities and improving the quality of patient care is the frequent lack of basic data on race, ethnicity, and primary language of patients within health care organizations. According to the authors' survey of 1,000 hospitals nationwide and results of the 2003 American Hospital Association annual survey, the majority of hospitals (78% in both surveys) reported collecting race and ethnicity data about patients. Only 50 percent of respondents from the 22 states that have a mandate to collect such data were actually aware of the mandate.
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