Black children are less likely to receive painkillers as white children when being treated for appendicitis in the emergency room, researchers said in a study published on Monday, NBC News reported.
Researchers blamed the disparity on an unwarranted fear that black children could become addicted to opioids, such as morphine and fentanyl, combined with an unconscious bias against African-American children.
“Black patients with moderate pain were less likely to receive any (painkiller), and black patients with severe pain were less likely to be treated with opioids,” Dr. Monika Goyal of the Children’s National Health System in Washington and her colleagues wrote in JAMA Pediatrics.
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The study also found that beyond the racial disparity, only about half of the children studied got any painkillers, even though they’re strongly recommended in appendicitis cases, researchers said.