In emergency rooms across the United States, black and Hispanic patients are less likely than white patients to obtain medication to relieve acute pain. Unfortunately, this is true.
According to a study, when a Black person goes to the emergency hospital with a broken bone and a white person goes to the same emergency room with the same condition, the Black person receives a lower dosage and, in some cases, inferior treatment. However, the harm is the same. Injury-related pain, not a sickness or condition.
In fact, the research found that Black people were 41% less likely than white people to receive pain medication whether they had lengthy bone fractures or acute pain from other sorts of severe injuries.
What is the reason for this?
A 2016 study gives light on why this is still happening: racial inequities are being taught.
In a poll of 222 future doctors–white medical students and residents–nearly half said that biological differences between blacks and whites are untrue.
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, individuals who did so thought black people were in less pain than white people and were more likely to propose incorrect medical therapy for black patients.
“Future doctors were more likely to advise incorrect medical therapy for Black patients,” read it again. That’s incredible.
The authors asked 100 regular people and over 400 medical students and residents from various racial groups what they thought about statements like “Black people’s nerve endings are less sensitive than white people’s nerve endings” (which the authors say is false) and “Whites are less likely to have a stroke than blacks” (which the authors say is true).
They then asked participants to envision how much pain they would feel if their hand was banged in a car door by a white or black person.
Medical students were also asked to make therapy recommendations for the patients. Then they looked at how those three categories were related.
Across the board, there were a number of misconceptions. However, for white respondents, the same incorrect beliefs were linked to their view that black people experience less suffering on average.
What’s more alarming is that medical students and residents who had more incorrect beliefs than the average gave less accurate advice a higher percentage of the time.
Researchers looked at the analyzed data from 14 previously published studies on pain care in American emergency rooms (ERs), including a total of 7,070 white patients, 1,538 Hispanic patients, and 3,125 black patients.
The investigation found that black patients were 40% less likely than white patients to receive medicine to relieve acute pain, and Hispanic patients were 25% less likely.
“The reasons for these disparities are likely complex and multifaceted and may include factors such as implicit bias, language barriers, cultural differences in pain perception and expression, and institutional differences in ERs that serve primarily Black and Hispanic patients,” according to the study.
Dr. Andrew Meltzer, a researcher at George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., is the study’s senior author.
“Unrelieved pain can have a variety of consequences, including a growing distrust of physicians and the medical community, financial burden from its incapacitating effects, and physical and emotional ramifications,” says the study.
Meltzer wrote in an email. “However, given the present opioid epidemic, it’s uncertain if greater pain medicine could be considered a sign of better care.”
Researchers find in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine that black patients were 34% less likely than white patients to receive opioids for acute pain, and Hispanic patients were 13% less likely to receive opioids for acute pain.
So, what are our options?
1. Get a second opinion on your decision.
It’s your right to learn what others have to say about your predicament.
2. Make a list of tough questions to ask your doctor.
It’s fine to inquire if your doctor is aware of racial bias in the treatment of pain. It’s fine to inquire if your doctor is aware of the cultural disparities in the treatment of African-American patients.
3. Be open and honest about your pain threshold and discomfort level.
Don’t try to be “tough” or “tough it out” if they ask if it’s hurting. Tell the truth about how much pain you’re in so you can get the help you need.
Source: Black Doctors Org