Black Patients Prescribed Fewer Opioids than White Patients in Same Health System

Health care is rife with inequities, from access to quality of care, and a new study finds that common opioids such as codeine and morphine are more often prescribed to white patients than to Black patients treated within the same health system.

White patients received both more pills and stronger doses, according to the study, published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. In about 90% of the 310 health systems studied, the opioid dose prescribed to white patients was higher than the one prescribed to Black patients. On average, white patients received 36% more pain medication by dosage than Black patients, even though both groups received prescriptions at similar rates.

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