Study objectives: We characterize the use of analgesics among children of different race and ethnicity who had isolated long bone fractures that were treated in emergency departments (EDs) across the United States.
Methods: According to ED survey data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for 1992 through 1998, patients younger than 19 years and visiting EDs with isolated long bone fractures were identified by International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes. Analgesic-prescribing rates were examined for children of different racial and ethnic groups. Multivariate logistic regression was used to determine the independent effect of race and ethnicity on analgesic use and on opioid use while other potential confounders were controlled.
Results: One thousand thirty records representing approximately 3.9 million children were identified. Seven hundred ninety-two records were of non-Hispanic white patients, 111 were of black patients, and 127 were of Hispanic white patients. No significant difference was noted among the different racial and ethnic groups for receipt of analgesic medications or of opioid analgesic medications. Children with long bone fractures who visited the ED in the South (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.91; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.19 to 3.09) and the West (adjusted OR 1.78; 95% CI 1.07 to 2.96) received opioid analgesic medications more often than children in the Northeast. Children in the South also received any analgesics more often (adjusted OR 1.61; 95% CI 1.01 to 2.56).
Conclusion: No difference in analgesic prescription or opioid analgesic prescription was found between black and Hispanic children compared with non-Hispanic white children with long bone fractures in EDs. There are, however, previously unreported regional differences in analgesic administration.