Study finds African-Americans do not receive appropriate care at emergency departments

ER PictureHealthy People 2010 examined health disparities among monitories and possible approaches to reduce the magnitude of the gaps in several health indicators. Since 2000, multiple measures have been implemented to improve health care delivery to minorities. However, the impact of these measures was not addressed in emergency department settings.

At the Department of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, researchers examined the racial differences in quality of care delivered in emergency departments. As an indicator for the quality of care, the researchers examined the waiting time to see a physician for chest pain complaints. The research team compared the waiting time between African-Americans and white adult patients in a nationally representative data.

The study published recently in the official journal of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine found that African-Americans wait longer at emergency departments in comparison to their white counterparts. Adel Alrwisan, M.S., a graduate student and lead author, and Efe Eworuke Ph.D., an adjunct assistant professor in the department of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy and epidemiologist at the Food and Drug Administration, reported that on average African-Americans waited 30 percent longer than their white counterparts.

“Longer waiting for African-Americans is not news. However, the lack of improvement over time is noteworthy,” Alrwisan said.

The study showed that the likelihood for longer waiting time has not improved from 2004 to 2011, as African-Americans continue to wait longer for chest pain related emergency room visits.

“Understanding the reasons for discrepancies in waiting time for minorities is imperative,” Eworuke said. “We also need to examine how these discrepancies affect patients’ health.”

Adel Alrwisan is a 4th year Ph.D student working under the supervision of Almut Winterstein, Ph.D., a professor and interim chair of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy. He earned his master’s degree from University of Aberdeen in 2010 and joined the Department of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy in 2012. Alrwisan’s research interest mainly focuses on pharmacoepidemiology and health outcomes.