Children and Pain Management in EDs: Whites More Likely to Receive Opioids

In a study published online in JAMA Pediatrics, out of 940,000 children with appendicitis, over half received any analgesia and about 40% received opioid analgesia. While 43% of white children receiving opioids, only 21% of black patients did. “When stratified by pain score and adjusted for ethnicity,” whether the pain was moderate or severe, “black patients were less likely to receive” pain medication. “In patients reporting moderate pain, only 15.7% of black patients received any analgesia as compared to 58.5% of white patients.” In those reporting severe pain, only 24.5% of blacks received the appropriate opioid medicine as compared to 58.3% of whites.”

In the pediatric population, appendicitis is generally undertreated, and especially undertreated for black children. Previous studies have shown that there are racial/ethnic differences for people of all ages—in how long a patient has to wait to see a physician or be admitted to the hospital. Management of pain disparities for adults have been noted as well, with opioid prescription rates lower for black and Hispanics than whites. Among the conclusions to the study mentioned above, “findings suggest that there are racial disparities in opioid administration to children with appendicitis, even after adjustment for potential confounders.”

To read an article about the study, click here.

To read the JAMA online article, click here.



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