Pain Management Based on Skin colour?

Canada is the No. 2 user of opiates in the world next to the U.S. and according to Centers for Disease Control data, the number of deaths from opiates like prescription painkillers is increasing with each passing year in both Canada and USA. Based on USA data, roughly 15 000 people die each year from overdoses involving prescription opioids (e.g. Methadone, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone) and over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.


In fact the stats show that these prescription drugs kill more than all illicit drug overdoses (…including those from heroin and cocaine, combined).

This study looked at pain management for Caucasian versus African American patients with chronic non-malignant pain using opioid therapy.


Result #1: Compared to Caucasians, African Americans had higher perceived discrimination when seeking pain treatments


Result #2: The perceived discrimination among the African American population was associated with hopelessness


Result #3: African Americans reported worse pain management and poorer quality of life than Caucasians


I really feel that MDs are put in a very difficult situation. On one hand they see the continuous rise in opioid related deaths and on the other hand they see their patients in pain who want to take some kind of pain-killer to improve their quality of life.


What is an MD to do? These are times where I’m glad to be a PT as I don’t ever have to make these complex life or death decisions for my patients.

On a side note: Number of deaths from marijuana overdoses …ZERO! Guess what I support?


Reference: Ezenwa MO, Fleming MF. Racial Disparities in Pain Management in Primary Care. J Health Dispar Res Pract. 2012;5(3):12-26.

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