Black Patients Less Likely To Receive Pain Medication From EMTs Than White Patients, New Study Says
Another study demonstrates why Black people are often skeptical about seeking the help of medical professionals.
January 07, 2019 at 8:06 pm
A new study found unconscious racial bias among Oregon’s first responders.
The study found Black patients are 40 percent less likely to receive pain medication compared to white patients. The findings remained constant across socioeconomic lines and insurance type.
The data were sourced from 104,000 medical charts logged between 2015 and 2017. Despite the alarming figures, the study's authors blame the treatment on unconscious bias rather than outright bigotry.
Physician and former EMT Leslie Gregory said she saw the biases discussed in the study for herself while working in Lenawee County, Michigan. She told NPR about a former colleague who seemed to believe a Black patient was overdramatic to gain access to painkillers.
"I think it was something like: 'Oh, my God. Here we go again,'” she recalled. Gregory feared she would have to go from medic to race advocate.
"I am absolutely sure this was unconscious," she continued. "At the time, I remember, it increased my stress as we rode up on this person. Because I thought, 'Now am I going to have to fight my colleague for more pain medication, should that arise?’”
The medical industry’s treatment of Black people is well-documented. In 2016, a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found medical students believed biological myths about Black people and white people, according to Stat.
The study surveyed 222 medical students and residents, and about half of them held erroneous beliefs about Black bodies. For instance, many believed Black people do not feel pain as intensely as white people. Dangerously, the study found those holding the false beliefs were 15 percent more likely to give bad medical advice.
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