9 Investigates: Health care disparities in minority communities and the impacts on Black children

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two new studies conducted by the American Society of Anesthesiologists have found a troubling trend: racial disparities among children who need surgery.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the reports examined the experiences of Black children undergoing surgery.

One study showed that Black children are more than twice as likely to die if they have surgical complications and need a follow-up procedure, because of factors such as socioeconomic status.

Another study revealed that Black, Hispanic and Asian children are half as likely to have surgery as white children, because of factors such as mistrust in the healthcare system.

Dr. Crystal Wright with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center serves as the ASA’s Diversity Chair. She thinks more training in cultural communication in medical school could help combat the disparities identified in the studies.

“We don’t want to pick and choose who can have access to quality care,” she said. “I think once that equation is almost equal, then it becomes easier for patients, it becomes more accessible for patients.”

Robert and Amanda Brown are grateful for the care their son Oliver received when he was born eight weeks premature with a heart murmur.

“It was crazy because it’s something you’re not ready for, you’re not prepared for,” Robert said.

They said they’ll use their experience to help others who face similar situations.

“Things happen for a reason,” Robert said. “I think stuff is a blessing too, because you can share with other people your journey.”