Paulson M, Dekker AH. Healthcare Disparities in Pain Management. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2005;105(6_suppl_3):S14–S17. doi: .
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Despite efforts targeted at physicians for improving the way in which they manage pain, discrepancies still abound in how they treat certain patients for this condition. Special populations of patients such as racial minorities, women, and substance abusers are victims of deficiencies in pain management and suffer needlessly. Healthcare providers need to be aware of disparities that may not be readily apparent. To provide appropriate care, physicians need to follow pain management guidelines; however, they receive contradictory information on how to treat patients in pain, and they may be apprehensive about prescribing opioids. Recognizing that pain is one of the most frequent reasons a patient may see a physician, it is important to recognize the healthcare disparities in managing pain as well as the barriers to providing appropriate treatment for pain. Only when physicians acknowledge disparities and barriers can they begin to evaluate and improve on their own practices of pain management.
Healthcare providers should be made aware of racial and ethnic disparities in health-care, and the fact that these disparities exist, often despite providers' best intentions.
Vital signs are taken seriously. If pain were assessed with the same zeal as other vital signs are, it would have a much better chance of being treated properly. We need to train doctors and nurses to treat pain as a vital sign. Quality care means that pain is measured and treated.
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