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Racial Disparity Found in Pediatric Care

By on October 19, 2011

Black and Hispanic children in the United States are less likely than white children to receive a CT scan after they suffer a minor head injury,  a new study finds.

Researchers examined the cases of nearly 40,000 children with head  injuries treated at 25 pediatric emergency care trauma centers and found  about 35 percent of them underwent a cranial CT scan. Research results found that low-risk white children were more likely to  receive a CT scan than low-risk black or Hispanic children.

“Our study demonstrates that among children with minor head trauma, but  at low risk for clinically important brain injury, white children received  cranial CT scans more frequently than black or Hispanic children,” Dr.  Alexander Rogers said in an academy news release. “In this low-risk  population, higher rates of cranial CT may represent overuse in white  children, leading to increased radiation exposure and health care costs.”

A number of factors likely contribute to this racial/ethnic disparity,  but the study “highlights the importance of strong, evidence-based  guidelines to assure equal and optimal care,” Rogers said.

This study was recently presented at a medical meeting in Boston, and the data and  conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a  peer-reviewed journal. But there is obvious sensitivity to the racial disparity with head injury care.


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