Minority Patients Pain Experience

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October 22, 2014
Edward Smith

Experiencing Pain as a Minority Patient

As a Sacramento personal injury lawyer, I have had occasion to represent many minority members in auto and trucking accidents since 1982.  Over the years, I’ve noticed that, in general, different people and different cultures experience pain differently. I recently came across an article entitled Hispanic Inpatient Pain intensity.

The gist of that article summarized is that non-English speaking Hispanic patients in hospitals tend to underreport pain by some 30 percent compared to  English speaking Hispanic patients.

May times, in personal injury lawsuits, the insurance companies focus on complaints of pain showing up in the medical records. They imply that if there was no pain indicated in the medical records, the patient must not have been in pain. It’s important to the serious personal injury lawyer to be familiar with the medical literature to explain why those complaints may not have been voiced. And that not being voiced, is not the same as not being experienced.

Another recent study entitled, Pain and Psychological symptom differences in African Americans and European Americans experiencing motor vehicle collisions,  showed that African Americans suffered greater neck pain and incidences of PTSD  than European Americans months after an auto accident.  Whether the increased physical and psychological pain after motor vehicle accidents are due to greater life stress, challenges associated with discrimination or perceived racism or is due to a lower socioeconomic status is currently unknown.

Yet another medical journal article recently read entitled A Longitudinal examination of neighborhood socioeconomic status and cancer pain showed that neighborhoods characterized by poverty, lack of education and lack of employment, increased risk for more cancer pain and pain interference.

The important point to note is that pain can vary by ethnic group or by culture whether that pain is organic in nature or via trauma.

It’s important that personal injury attorneys handling trauma understand and can explain via their expert medical doctors, that people are unique. That just as every person grieves differently, every person experiences pain differently.