The Green-Eyed Martian Healthcare Disparities in Pain Management

Author: Theresa Mallick-Searle

Studies have shown that there are many often overlooked risk factors—including race, socioeconomic background, and healthcare provider bias—for the undermanagement of pain in vulnerable patient population groups. Disparities in pain management undermine affected individuals and their families, and contribute to higher rates of disability, increasing healthcare utilization and spending. The overwhelming impact of undermanaged pain in selected patient groups has made it one of the key areas addressed in the National Pain Strategy. This article focuses on defining the magnitude of the problem facing vulnerable groups, offers problem-solving solutions to overcoming disparities in pain management, and includes the utility of evaluating the mismanagement of pain as a medical error, applying a systems approach to resolve the problem.

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