Disparity in the E.R.
Posted by Michael C. Blackwell in category Frail-aging Well-aging on February 21, 2012
People who are 75 or older and have to make a trip to the emergency room because of pain are less likely to be given pain medication than a younger patient with the same complaint.
Those results come from a seven-year study of patient data in emergency rooms across the United States. They show that 68% of patients 35 to 54 received medications for their pain, while only 49% of patients aged 75 and over received the same treatment.
The lead researcher says, "We're not exactly sure why this happens. It may be because physicians are more concerned about potential side effects in this population."
Patients 65 and older account for some 20 million E.R. visits every year. Almost half of these visits are for the evaluation and treatment of pain.
All this highlights the fact that the medical community needs to better understand how best to manage pain in older patients and understand the barriers to doing this.
As the lead researcher (Timothy Platts-Mills of UNC) says, "All patients, regardless of age, deserve to have relief from pain, especially when it is severe."
Amen to that!