A recent analysis reveals that black children are far less likely to receive pain medication in the ER than white children with the same conditions.
According to NBC news, a recent analysis of hospital practices revealed that black children are significantly less likely to receive opioid pain killers to treat appendicitis than white children.
The researchers who performed the study found that after adjusting for a number of factors including pain score, insurance status, age, and sex, white children with appendicitis were, on average, more likely to receive opioid analgesia than black children.
Monika K. Goyal, MD, MSCE, of Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC, reported that approximately 34% of white children with appendicitis were treated with opioid analgesia, while only 12% of black children received the same treatment.
The results of the study were reported in JAMA Pediatrics, and they were found to be similar when stratified by pain score and adjusted for ethnicity. Only about 25% of black children in severe pain were given opioids for appendicitis pain as opposed to almost 60% of white children.
The study also found that 60% of white children were likely to receive opioids when they complained about only moderate pain, while only 15% of black children received them.
Goyal reported to MedPage Today that her team specifically examined appendicitis because it is a painful surgical condition with widely accepted standard practices regarding the treatment of pain with opioids.
Goyal reported, “Although there’s literature that has documented racial disparities in pain management for adults, we were surprised that these differences also exist in children and in a condition like appendicitis where one of main things is adequate pain control with opioids”.