Race, Insurance May Affect Testing of Kids in ER

FRIDAY, Oct. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Black children and kids without private insurance are less likely than white children and those who do have private insurance to be given tests when seen for chest pain at hospital emergency departments, a U.S. study has found.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center researchers analyzed data on 818 chest pain-related emergency department visits made by children and teens included in the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey between 2002 and 2006.

They found that 71 percent of white children were given either an EKG, chest X-ray or a complete blood count, compared with 59 percent of black children. The study also found that 75 percent of children with private insurance got at least one of the tests, compared with 59 percent of those covered by Medicaid or other public health plans.

This means that white children were 1.6 times more likely than black children to receive testing for chest pain and that white children with private insurance were 2.2 times more likely to have tests than those with public insurance.

The findings were scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held Oct. 17 to 20 in Washington, D.C.

"These new findings are significant because they present a nationwide practice of allowing non-clinical data to guide emergency care of our vulnerable pediatric population, proving a different standard of care depending on one's race or insurance type," Dr. Tom Kimball, a pediatric cardiologist at the Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children's and the study's senior author, said in a news release from the medical center.

"This does not necessarily mean that an increased level of testing implies better or more appropriate care," he said. "That conclusion would be beyond the scope of this study."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about health disparities among minority youths.

SOURCE: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, news release, Oct. 16, 2009

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