Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Black patients less likely than whites to get ER medication

CNN is reporting that whites are more likely than blacks to receive painkillers when waiting in the emergency room. The results are from a 13 year study of 150,000 emergency room visits. The gap exists for every type of pain, and for both urban and rural hospitals.

"The gaps between whites and nonwhites have not appeared to close at all," said study co-author Dr. Mark Pletcher of the University of California, San Francisco.

The results are to appear in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Linda Simoni-Wastila of The University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Pharmacy argues that the racial gap may be due to the fact that doctors suspect minority patients of being drug abusers and lying to get narcotics. This would be ironic, since the rate of white prescription drug abuse is far greater than that of African-Americans.

The researchers argue that stricter protocols for prescribing narcotics may help close the gap.

In the study, opioid narcotics were prescibed 31% of the time for whites, 28% for Asians 24% for Hispanics and 23% for blacks. Minorities were slightly more likely than whites to get aspirin, ibuprofen and similar pain-related medication.

In kidney stone visits, whites got drugs 72% of the time, Hispanics 68%, Asians 67% and African-Americans 56%.

1 comment:

Kentucky said...

From my own experience, it is not only the pain medication that is slow in coming to African American patients in the hospital emergency room, but depending on what type of hospital ER you are visiting [public, private, university, or other] the overall medical care in the ER can range from being treated like human in need of medical care, to the rudest and crudest of "we don't believe there is anything wrong with you!"

Lord help you if you have to go back to the same ER with the same ailment.

The next time you are in a hospital ER, pull out your pencil and paper and take note of what you observe, then share your thoughts with the hospital administration and others who need to know.

The best service that I have ever received in an ER was in Seattle, WA.

Reinette F. Jones