Report: Black kids receive less pain medication in ER than white kids

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Researchers reported Monday findings that indicate a visit to the ER can be far more painful for African-American children than for white children.

For example, children with appendicitis are more likely to receive pain medicine if they are white than if they are black, despite the fact that appendicitis is a clearly painful medical emergency.

According to NBC News, researchers decided to study appendicitis because it is largely acknowledged to be a medical condition which merits pain medication.

Dr. Monika Goyal of the Children’s National Health System in Washington and colleagues wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Pediatrics, “Black patients with moderate pain were less likely to receive any analgesia, and black patients with severe pain were less likely to be treated with opioids.”

Researchers used data from 900,000 cases of children with acute appendicitis from 2003-2010. They blamed a bias against opioids combined with an unconscious bias against African-Americans for the disparity.

“Our findings suggest that although clinicians may recognize pain equally across racial groups, they may be reacting to the pain differently by treating black patients with non-opioid analgesia, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, while treating white patients with opioid analgesia for similar pain,” the researchers wrote.

Read more details here.