Black kids don't receive the same emergency-room care that white children do, according to a new study of 2,000 kids who sought treatment for abdominal pain in 550 hospitals. It found that black children were 39% less likely to receive painkillers than their white peers. The racial gap grew even larger amongst kids in more severe pain, rated seven on a scale of 10, ABC News reports. Black and Hispanic kids were also more likely to be in the ER for more than six hours, even when undergoing the same testing as white kids.
It's not yet clear why the disparity exists. Among adults, studies have suggested that black patients are less vocal about their pain than whites. Another study found that doctors were nearly twice as likely to underestimate the severity of pain among black patients versus other ethnicities. As for children, "we need to look at where these differences are coming from," says the study's lead author. "Are they at the patient level, the parent level, or the physician level?"