By Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum | Posted Sep 22, 2022
It’s no secret that women often receive different medical treatment than men, but a new study has shed light on how this disparity manifests in emergency care for chest pain. The study was recently published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine; it found that young adults presenting to the emergency department with chest pain were more likely to be evaluated and treated for a cardiac event if they were male.
Black and Hispanic patients were less likely to be given an electrocardiogram (EKG) than white patients. This was the case even after controlling for other factors such as insurance status and symptoms. EKGs are considered the gold standard for diagnosing heart attacks, so restricting access to this diagnostic test raises concerns. Limiting access to EKGs limits the ability for proper diagnosis.
They also underscore the importance of ensuring that all patients receive evidence-based care, regardless of gender or race.
It’s worth noting that this study was conducted at a single institution. Therefore, it’s possible that the findings may not match care disparities in other emergency departments. However, if these findings are borne out by further research, they could have significant implications for how we provide emergency care to young adults—particularly women and minority patients. With the right emergency care, a patient’s medical team has a better chance to offer accurate treatment and intervention.
More research is needed to understand why women and minority patients are less likely to receive certain lifesaving treatments in the emergency department. In the meantime, it’s crucial that all patients receive evidence-based care regardless of their gender or race.