Pain relief in US emergency rooms is related to patients' race
- By: Deborah Josefson
Patients from ethnic minorities seen in emergency rooms are relatively undertreated for pain, according to a new study (Annals of Emergency Medicine 2000;35:116, 77–81).
Doctors at Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, conducted a retrospective analysis of the medical charts of 217 patients who had presented with long bone fractures to a single urban emergency department over 40 months.
Of the total, 127 patients were black and 90 were white. The patients had similar injuries and similar complaints of pain. Overall, 43% of the black patients received no pain medication whereas only 26% of white patients went untreated for pain.
This is the second study to uncover a racial bias in the prescribing of pain relief. An earlier study conducted by the same authors at the University of California School of Medicine in Los Angeles found that Hispanic patients were also less likely to receive adequate pain relief in