(HealthDay News) – Racial disparities exist in the use of analgesics in pediatric patients in the emergency department presenting with abdominal pain, according to a study published online Sept. 23 in Pediatrics.

Tiffani J. Johnson, MD, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues utilized data from the 2006–2009 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to identify 2,298 visits by patients ≤21 years old (70.1% female; 52.6% white) who presented to emergency departments with abdominal pain.

The researchers found that non-Hispanic black patients were less likely to receive any analgesic (odds ratio [OR], 0.61) or a narcotic analgesic (OR, 0.38) than non-Hispanic white patients (referent group). Prolonged length of stay was seen in non-Hispanic black and Hispanic patients compared to non-Hispanic white patients (OR, 1.68 and 1.64, respectively). For pain score, use of diagnostic procedures, 72-hour return visits, and hospital admissions, there were no significant race/ethnicity-based disparities identified.

“Race/ethnicity-based disparities exist in emergency department analgesic use and length of stay for pediatric abdominal pain,” the authors write. “Recognizing these disparities may help investigators eliminate inequalities in care.”

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