USA Today: Children of color are less likely to undergo elective surgery. What does this mean?
By Nada Hassanein
Latino, Black and Asian children are less likely to undergo elective surgeries compared with white children, according to a recent study.
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, analyzed data on more than 200,000 children from a national health survey of parents. Roughly 10,000 of those children reportedly had surgery.
Between 40% and 60% fewer surgeries were reported by parents of Black, Asian and Latino children, and Latino children were more likely to have emergency surgery.
The research shows children of color could be suffering amid delays in important surgical interventions, experts say.
Further investigation is needed and experts aren’t certain of the cause of the differences. But the findings add to growing evidence of surgical disparities in children of color and underscore inequities in children’s health as the nation continues to reckon with structural racism in health care systems, experts say.
The findings align with previous studies that show glaring disparities, said Dr. Bridgette Jones, a pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.
For example, Black and Hispanic children have been shown to be less likely to receive adequate pain treatment for appendicitis or fractures compared to white children, she noted. White children coming to the emergency room with minor blunt head trauma or headaches are also more likely to receive head imaging.
These "demonstrate that medical care provided to children is not equitable and that race and ethnicity is a driving factor," she said.
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