Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Study: Racism in Emergency Room Medication Dispension

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%.

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