Though the study did find a difference in treatment among white, Hispanic and black children, the reason isn't so clear. And the theory regarding the difference might surprise the public. According to the research, white children get CT scans more often following minor head injuries than the children of the other races.
The study came up with the following statistics based on children's visits to hospitals for head traumas within about a two-year period:
42 percent of white children brought in for minor head trauma got CT scans.
28 percent of black and Hispanic children brought in for minor head trauma got CT scans.
The above numbers suggest a big difference between the ways children of different races were treated for minor head trauma. By looking further into the study, however, the big difference only existed when kids showed no signs of intermediate or severe injury. When there were only non-serious symptoms, that is when white children were significantly more likely to undergo CT scans.
Initially, that trend might lead the public to believe that hospitals favor more, better treatment for white children and families. But in reality, according to the researchers, CT scans can be dangerous when done unnecessarily. More treatment is not better treatment and can actually lead to more medical mistakes and, in the case of CT scans, dangerous radiation risks.
So why are white children being scanned more often? The researchers don't offer a concrete answer to that question but do suggest that parental anxiety likely plays a role in the rate of the tests. It sounds like now that the researchers have identified this brain injury treatment trend, they need to get to the reason behind it and come up with suggestions in order to protect kids from potentially excessive and dangerous medical tests.
Source: Reuters, "In U.S., white kids get more scans for low-risk head trauma," Aug. 6, 2012