Racial disparities in the healthcare industry with regard to the level of consideration or caliber of treatment Black patients received versus white patients has long been a topic of discussion and now a new study is yet again proving what many already know to be true.

The study in question was conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Pediatrics and focused on the administering of pain medication to children admitted to emergency rooms for acute appendicitis. Once concluded, the study found that ER doctors are much less likely to give Black children pain medication than they are other children for various reasons, however, experts found that one of the reasons was because of a long-running bias against Black children.

Other reasons for only 12 percent of Black children receiving pain medication during ER visits included the notion by some doctors that Black children fail to ask for pain medication and also that some possess an “unwarranted fear” of the side effects and therefore decline the medication when offered.

This study is based on national survey data from 2003 to 2010. It includes more than 900,000 children receiving treatment for acute appendicitis.

Regardless of the reasoning behind these disturbing findings, there’s no arguing that only 12 percent of Black children admitted to the ER receiving the necessary pain medication is an issue that speaks to a much larger problem that spans beyond hospital doors. If these children and/or there parents are reluctant to accept the medication and these ER doctors know it’s necessary, why not take a little extra time out to thoroughly educate them on why it’s safer than they thought? And if the children (or their guardians) fail to ask for the medication but the doctors know that it’s needed still don’t give it to them, who is REALLY to blame?

From the sounds of this study, the healthcare industry just needs to do better, period when it comes to how the care for Black children.

Credit: Getty

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  • DreaMLC

    I was going to say this! You’ve stated it much clearer than I would’ve, and I didn’t feel like typing it all. Thanks for making that clear. This type of over simplistic thinking in regards to treating pain is a problem even many health professionals have, you’d be surprised. Also, I would like to add that the racist attitudes responsible for this type of discrimination do not apply to only whites. Unfortunately racist attitudes and beliefs are internalized by many black people including black healthcare professionals. Oftentimes black nurses and doctors treat black patients the worst. Similar to the phenomena we often find in law enforcement, and business. This is a problem I have seen and experienced far too much, with children and adults, it needs to be addressed. Even other doctors trying to fight this have been villainized.