Inequity in Discharge Pain Management for Trauma Patients with Limited English Proficiency

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2021 May 25. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000003294. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: Pain management is critical for optimal recovery after trauma. Previous work at our institution revealed differences in pain assessment by patient language, which may impact management. This study aimed to understand differences in discharge opioid prescribing for trauma patients with limited English proficiency (LEP).

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study of adult trauma patients discharged to the community from a diverse, urban Level-1 Trauma Center in 2018. Opioid prescriptions were obtained from discharge pharmacy records and converted to standard oral morphine equivalents (OMEs). Multivariable logistic and quantile regression was used to examine the relationship between LEP, opioid prescriptions, and OMEs at discharge, controlling for demographic and clinical characteristics.

RESULTS: Of 1,419 patients included in this study, 83% were English proficient (EP) and 17% were LEP. At discharge, 56% of EP patients received an opioid prescription, compared to 41% of LEP patients. In multivariable models, EP patients were 1.63 times more likely to receive any opioid prescription (95% CI: 1.17-2.25, p = 0.003). Mean OME was 147 for EP and 94 for LEP patients. In multivariable models, the difference between EP and LEP patients was 40 OMEs (95% CI: 21.10-84.22, p = 0.004). In adjusted quantile regression models, differences in total OMEs increased with the amount of OMEs prescribed. There was no difference in OMEs at the 20th and 40th percentile of total OMEs, but LEP patients received 26 fewer OMEs on average at the 60th percentile (95% CI: -3.23-54.90, p = 0.081), and 45 fewer OMEs at the 80th percentile (95% CI: 5.48-84.48, p = 0.026).

CONCLUSION: LEP patients with traumatic injuries were less likely to receive any opioid prescription and were prescribed lower quantities of opiates, which could contribute to suboptimal pain management and recovery. Addressing these disparities is an important focus for future quality improvement efforts.


STUDY TYPE: Epidemiological.

PMID:34039923 | DOI:10.1097/TA.0000000000003294