Minority patients are less likely than white patients to receive powerful painkillers in hospital emergency rooms, a new study has found. Researchers discovered that 31% of white people in pain were given opioid drugs—narcotic painkillers like morphine and codeine—while Hispanic patients got them 24% of the time and blacks 23%. Overall, prescriptions for opioids have increased 14% since 1993.
"There is no evidence that nonwhites have less severe or different types of pain," wrote the study's author. "We think our data indicate that oploids are being under-prescribed to minority emergency department patients, especially black and Hispanic patients." The report speculates that white patients may be more likely to demand relief, or may be over-prescribed opioids because they're more likely to have health insurance.