Compared with their whitecounterparts, African-American children and teens were less likely to receive emergencyroom drug treatment for abdominal pain, according to a study presented at thePediatric Academic Societies meeting and reported by HealthDay News

For the study, researchers at theChildren’s Hospital of Pittsburgh examined national data on almost 2,300patients, younger than 21, who were seen at emergency rooms for abdominal pain.Fifty-three percent of them were white, 23 percent black and 21 percent Latino. 

Findings showed black children andteens were less likely than white kids to receive meds in treatment, even whenthey reported severe pain. What’s more, researchers also found that black andLatino children were more likely than white children to stay in ERs for morethan six hours. (There were no racial differences in what tests were conductedor in how many of these children were admitted to the hospital.) 

Because ERs serve as the nation’s healthcare safety net, where all children can receive care regardless of their race, insurancestatus or ability to pay, scientists said the findings were disturbing.  

“All children deserve equal accessto high-quality health care,” said Tiffani J. Johnson, MD, a pediatricemergency medicine fellow at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and apostdoctoral scholar at RAND-University of Pittsburgh Health Institute. 

More research is needed to helpunderstand why these differences exist, Johnson said, adding that such researchis an important first step in improving the quality and equity of care thatchildren receive in hospital emergency rooms. 

But, since the research data andconclusions were presented at a medical meeting, they are viewed as preliminary.The next step for researchers will be to publish in a peer-reviewed journal. 

Did you know that the emergencyroom can be a dangerous place for black patients? Click here to find out howrace can affect the quality of the medical treatment you receive.