A new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that black children are less likely than white children to receive pain medication when being treated for acute appendicitis. "Black children had one-fifth the odds of receiving opioid analgesia than white children," the study stated.
"Our findings suggest that although clinicians may recognize pain equally across racial groups," the study goes on. "They may be reacting to the pain differently by treating black patients with nonopioid analgesia, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, while treating white patients with opioid analgesia for similar pain."
The study concluded, "More research is needed to understand why such disparities exist."
Last week, Terry Gross of NPR interviewed Dr. Damon Tweedy, an Assistant Professor of psychiatry at Duke University whose recent memoir Black Man in a White Coat documents his time as a young black man going through medical school as well as his early days as a doctor. Tweedy recalled an instance in which he'd injured his knee while playing tennis and visited a white doctor for treatment. "The doctor walks in the room, and, first of all, he doesn't make eye contact, doesn't really talk to me, just looks at my leg and has me stand up and down a couple times, then just says, 'Oh you're OK, you're fine.' But being a doctor, I knew that there were a lot of pieces missing."
Once Tweedy revealed that he too was a doctor, his treatment immediately improved. "It was like I was two different people at the same time."
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