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Resident's Forum
January 2013

Postoperative Pain Assessment and Analgesic Administration in Native American Patients Undergoing Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

JAMA Surg. 2013;148(1):91-93. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2013.682

Ethnic disparities in pain assessment and analgesic administration following surgery have received little attention in the surgery literature. We noted that our Native American patients were less likely than others to complain of pain. A retrospective chart review of 21 Native American patients and a control group who underwent outpatient, elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy was performed. Native American patients had a statistically lower numeric pain score (mean, 6.5; 95% CI, 3.6-9.4) than non–Native American patients (mean, 8.1; 95% CI, 6.3-9.9; t38 = 2.63; P < .05). Native American patients also received less postsurgical analgesic (mean, 7.4; 95% CI, 4.0-10.8) than non–Native American patients (mean, 11.2; 95% CI, 7.2-15.2; t38 = 3.07; P < .01). Medical staff attending Native American patients should be aware that response to some scales to assess pain may not reflect accurately the degree of pain experienced.