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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Discrimination in the Emergency Room? Yes, It Happens!

Emergency Room Discrmination

Anyone who has visited a hospital emergency room knows the wait can be long. In fact, the average wait period is 349 minutes, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. However, that same study showed that the average wait period for African-Americans was about an hour longer--more than any other race. Coincidence? Or discrimination?

The longer patients have to wait, the greater the risk is of death. Emergency room waits of six or more hours have been linked to increased death rates for patients admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Yet, 50 percent of African-American patients wait six or more hours before being admitted. This compares to 37 percent for other races whose wait was six or more hours. Those who conducted the study could find no real evidence for the difference.

Different Prescriptions Based On Your Color??

ForThe Journal of the American Medical Association also reports their findings that indicates differences in prescribing treatment of pain in the emergency department. Their report states "Differential prescribing by race/ethnicity was evident for all types of pain visits, was more pronounced with increasing pain severity," and "white patients remaining significantly more likely to receive an opioid prescription than black patients, Hispanic patients, and Asian/other patients."

Regardless of the reasons, the result is that minorities are at greater risk in the emergency room. While the Affordable Care Act will make access to health care more affordable for more people, the quality of care must also improve to ensure that everyone, regardless of their social or economic status, receives equal medical treatment.
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