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Disparity in pediatric care delivery: research raises concerns

Our main focus in this blog is workers’ compensation. But beginning with this post, we will also periodically post about medical malpractice issues.

To be sure, we have already included discussions in previous posts of medical matters relating to workers’ compensation. In our April 12 post, for example, we talked about how over-prescription of narcotic painkillers can affect work comp claims.

In today’s post, let’s look at a medical malpractice issue that does not directly relate to workers’ compensation. We will take note of a new study suggesting that the treatment preferences of pediatric health care providers, not the needs of patients, drive the delivery of medical services to children.

The study was done by researchers associated with Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. The data set was based on patients under 18 in a three-state area that included Maine and Vermont along with New Hampshire. It covered the years from 2007 to 2010.

The researchers found, for instance, that kids in one New Hampshire city (Dover) had twice as many visits to emergency rooms as in a Vermont city (Burlington).

Nor was this the only disparity in service delivery. Another example is the fact that twice as many tonsillectomies were done on kids in Lebanon, New Hampshire, as in Bangor, Maine.

The research study also documented grounds for concern about disparities in the use of medication when treating children.

By themselves, these could be considered isolated examples. Taken together with numerous other such disparities, however, the data starts to paint a picture of the lack of standard protocols for the delivery of pediatric care.

 

 

Source: Modern Healthcare, "Pediatric care varies due to doc preference, not patient need, Dartmouth report says," Andis Robeznieks, Dec. 11, 2013

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