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Race May Be Factor in Children's Care in ERs

Study finds white kids more likely to get pain medicine than black kids

MONDAY, May 3, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Race may be a factor in the care received by children at emergency departments in the United States, according to a University of Rochester Medical Center study.

Researchers analyzed 2003 data from emergency departments at 25 hospitals across the nation. They focused on the black and white children who came to the ER with asthma or fractured arms and legs.

Among 181 children with fractures, pain control was documented 2.3 times more for the 131 white children than for the black children.

The study found no statistically significant difference in the medications given to 635 children (211 white) with asthma. But the researchers did determine that white children were using medications to prevent sudden asthma attacks 1.7 to 2 times more often than black children.

Patterns of social worker consultation and child abuse referrals were also examined in the study. Among 499 children (336 of whom were white) who had head trauma, burns, poisonings or fractures, black children were 2.9 times more often referred for social work or child abuse consultation than white children.

The study was presented May 3 at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting in San Francisco.

"This study could not examine why these disparities are occurring, but this is a critical first step to describe them and to acknowledge that they exist," study author Dr. Julius Goepp, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Golisano Children's Hospital, said in a prepared statement.

"The next step should be to conduct larger studies that will allow us to identify the causes of disparities, so we can offer a level playing field to all children," Goepp said.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about children and emergency care.

SOURCE: Pediatric Academic Societies, news release, May 3, 2004
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