Healthcare Disparities in the Treatment of Pediatric Distal Radius-Ulna Fractures: A Single-Institution Perspective

Author(s): Andrew Moon, Thomas E Niemeier, Charles Pitts, Gerald McGwin, Joseph Khoury

Background: This study sought to identify variables associated with socioeconomic disparities in the treatment of distal forearm fractures in children.

Methods: A single-institution retrospective cohort study of patients less than 18 years of age with isolated fractures of the distal radius and ulna. Patient included underwent a closed reduction and casting under sedation by an orthopedic resident with outpatient, clinical follow up within two weeks of injury. Demographic data were collected. Primary outcomes evaluated were the final fracture alignment and rate of surgical treatment.

Results: 177 children included in this study, including 105 with private insurance and 72 with Medicaid or no insurance, 129 were white and 48 were minorities, and 51 were female while 126 were male. There were no statistically significant differences between patient groups when assessed for treatment outcome, mean fracture displacement, time to first clinic appointment, and duration of follow-up. Rates of surgical treatment between all groups tested were non-significant. Of patients that met institutional operative criteria, a lower percentage of non-white (p=0.03), male (p=0.07), and non-private insurance patients (p=0.08) received surgery when surgery was indicated compared to white female patients with insurance.

Conclusions: At a single institution, no clear disparities in the overall care and outcomes of children with distal radius and ulna fractures were identified. When surgery was indicated by institutional standards, a significantly greater percentage of white patients underwent surgery when compared to non-whites, but no significant difference in the percentage of good, fair, and poor outcomes between these groups was seen.

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