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Papers of the Week

2020 May 07

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities

Disparities in Opioid Pain Management for Long Bone Fractures.


Benzing AC, Bell C, Derazin M, Mack R, MacIntosh T
J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2020 May 07.
PMID: 32378160.


An expanding body of evidence has established that racial disparities exist in the US healthcare system, manifesting in poorer health outcomes for members of the non-white population. This study examines whether disparities exist in the type of analgesia ordered for long bone fractures and the time to medication administration in a community teaching hospital serving a large Hispanic population. We reviewed de-identified data of 115 patients from the emergency department of a community Level II Trauma Center in central Florida with diagnosed long bone fractures and examined the clinical and demographic variables associated with the type of analgesic administered and factors associated with delays in medication administration. We found that women reported higher pain scores than men, but there was no difference in the type of pain medication administered. There was no difference in pain scores between white and non-white patients; however, white patients were more likely to receive opiates for their long bone fractures compared with non-white patients (70 vs 50%, p < 0.0001). Opioid pain medications were prescribed significantly more often to adult and elderly patients compared with pediatric patients who were more likely to receive acetaminophen compared with both other patient groups (p < 0.001). In summary, we found that pain score was not associated with the class of pain medication administered, but that race and age were. This study questions the utility of the pain score for acute injuries and raises concerns about the role of physician bias in analgesia administration.