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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Racism: What It Means For You

Hey! WHOA, there, pardner. When someone starts messing with our meds, we get ... concerned is putting it mildly.

Raw Story is telling us that minorities who go to the ER are less likely to get strong painkillers. WTF is that about?

Is pain less painful if you have a little pigmentation with it? Or what?

We remember gratefully the ER doctor who gave us a shot of demerol for a nasty abscessed tooth. When we showed up a day or two before, some flunky gave us antibiotics and told us to take ibuprofen. We can tell you exactly where to put that ibuprofen, ER junior assistant dishwasher. It ain't in our face, either.

After three days of excruciating pain which no amount of painkillers did squat about - and we don't like painkillers and don't like to take them, but were taking them about every two hours thanks to the agonizing pain - that shot of demerol was like instant heaven. The pain just disappeared.

Now why would anyone want to deny a suffering person relief? Eh?

Study co-author Mark Fletcher of UCSF had this to say:
... 23 percent of blacks, 24 percent of Hispanics, [and 28 percent of Asians and other groups] received [...] narcotic pain medications [...] for moderate to severe pain, compared with 31 percent of whites.

Pain management in the ER is "particularly important," said Fletcher. "Patients ... often have an acute issue with severe or new pain which really requires attention."

[...] The use of [strong pain meds] increased overall between 1993 and 2005, but the disparity between the treatment of whites vs. that of blacks and other minorities has remained stagnant.

ER physicians are often vigilant when administering opioids like morphine and codeine because of patients who are addicted to prescribed painkillers. [...]

"I'm sure this is part of the reason that patients don't always get the pain control they need," said Fletcher. "The ironic fact, however, is whites are actually more likely to abuse prescription medications than other patients are."
Dr. Fletcher says minority patients who don't get the pain relief they need should ask for it and keep asking till they get it. Great advice, doc, but let us know how that works for you when you're in the ER. We were lucky to have someone else with us at the time (the oft-mentioned spousal unit). We were too busy groaning and rolling about in pain to ask for any damn thing.

Details here.

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