Study suggests Alberta First Nations people tend to get lower level of emergency care
Hospital emergency rooms in Alberta are likely to assess complaints from First Nations people as less urgent than those from other patients, even when their problems are the same, says a new study that looked at millions of such visits.
“If people have a long bone fracture, you might expect the treatment would be the same between groups,” said Patrick McLane of the University of Alberta, a co-author of the study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
“First Nations people in emergency departments were less likely to get the higher triage score, which would result in higher urgency of treatment.”
McLane and his colleagues analyzed more than 11 million emergency room visits between 2012 and 2017 from all across Alberta. They looked at five different categories of injury or disease as well as five specific diagnoses.
The data revealed that emergency room staff consistently rated First Nations people as less urgent than non-Indigenous.
Overall, the study found 12 per cent of non-Indigenous patients were rated at the most serious levels, whereas eight per cent of First Nations people received that rating.
The finding was consistent through all different types of visits - trauma, infection, substance use, obstetrics and mental health - with the widest gap between First Nations and non-Indigenous assessments coming with substance use.
The pattern also held in three of the five specific diagnoses the team looked at.
A First Nations person showing up in an emergency room with a broken bone had an 82 per cent chance of receiving as urgent an assessment as a non-First Nations person with the same problem. For a respiratory infection, the figure was 90 per cent.
If a First Nations person showed up with an anxiety disorder, they had two-thirds the chance of a high assessment as a non-Indigenous person.
The work is part of a larger effort to address systemic racism in Alberta's health-care system, said co-author Bonnie Healy, a former triage nurse and Blackfoot member of the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre.
“We are all working on better relationships, better partnerships, to work together for gap closure in some of the health outcomes,” she said.
Both said the study isn't conclusive evidence of systemic racism in the province's emergency rooms.
“The differences we see could be multi-causal,” McLane said.
But the authors point out their new findings mesh well with previous work they've done. Interview-based studies have found Indigenous people have significant concerns about racism and profiling in emergency rooms.
The same findings result in studies in other jurisdictions.
“This fits into a picture that comes from the literature,” McLane said.
Healy said that many First Nations people, lacking family doctors, use emergency departments as primary care. If they're not being treated the same as other patients, that raises concerns about access to overall health care as well as emergency response, she said.
“A lot of the physicians and nurses don't understand that First Nations don't have funded primary care networks in their communities,” she said. “We really wanted to gain some understandings on both sides.”
Healy said the study will be presented to a group consisting of representatives from Alberta's health ministry and the province's First Nations that have been convened to discuss racism in health care.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2022.
Edmonton Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Quebec's health ministry announced Thursday evening there are two confirmed cases of monkeypox in the province, while 20 other suspected cases are still under investigation.
A growing number of countries, including Canada, the U.S., Spain, Portugal, and the U.K, are reporting an unusual outbreak of monkeypox. Here is what we know about this rare virus.
Conservative MP Ed Fast said it was becoming 'untenable' to do his job as finance critic within the Conservative Party of Canada, which is why he asked to be relieved of his duties.
Canada is banning China's Huawei Technologies and ZTE, another Chinese company, from participating in the country's 5G wireless networks, citing national security and cybersecurity concerns. Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino made the announcement about prohibiting products and services from these 'high-risk vendors,' in Ottawa on Thursday.
A leaked draft showing that the U.S Supreme Court justices are preparing to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling has sparked debate in Canada, including whether Catholic hospitals can impede your access to abortion.
An independent group should review the use-of-force policy that guides New Brunswick police to ensure it is concise and understood by all officers in the province, a coroner's jury recommended Thursday.
A painting by Nova Scotia artist Maud Lewis that was once traded for a few grilled cheese sandwiches, recently sold for an astounding $350,000 at auction.
A charity that focuses on helping LGBTQ2S+ refugees facing violence and discrimination internationally is calling on the Canadian government to partner with them to facilitate a way out for hundreds of Afghans who have reached out to them in desperation.
With a meeting of G7 finance ministers underway this week, a CTVNews.ca analysis found that while Canadians are feeling the pain of record-high inflation, among G7 nations we are surpassed by Germany, the U.S., and the U.K.
Thousands of Albertans were stunned Wednesday night when Premier Jason Kenney announced his impending resignation from the job.
The Flames delivered some not so hot news and some good news Thursday regarding viewing parties for upcoming games.
A 25-year-old Calgary man is facing several charges in connection with a random stabbing that took place on a CTrain on Wednesday.
A Saskatoon woman says she knew she wasn’t dealing with a typical real estate company the day Epic Alliance took over her property in 2019.
Charmaine Poorman isn’t ready to forgive the man accused of killing her brother, but she says her brother would.
Sixteen drivers were taken off the road for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Saskatoon on Wednesday night, Saskatoon police say.
Saskatchewan’s premier says Jason Kenney’s resignation from his post in Alberta is a “loss.”
The WHL U15 draft is the time where teams, players, families and fans can look toward the future of their respective franchises.
The spring session of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly came to a close on Thursday, wrapping up 10 weeks of fierce debate in the house.
As a former undercover RCMP officer and depot instructor, Calvin Lawrence has a blunt assessment of the RCMP response to Nova Scotia’s April 2020 massacre.
Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting an increase in new deaths in the province's weekly COVID-19 update.
Nearly 1,000 cases of a new Omicron COVID-19 subvariant dubbed 'BA.2.20' have been detected in Ontario, health officials say.
INVESTIGATION | Details vanish from Ontario MPP investment property disclosures as their value skyrockets
An unpublished decision by a provincial watchdog has removed many details from view of the real estate investments of dozens of candidates vying for re-election, even as those assets surge in value to more than $36 million, a CTV News investigation has found.
A vigil was held in downtown Toronto Thursday evening to remember the victims of a mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket and to denounce anti-Black racism.
After protests in CEGEPs, health care and in the business world, the legal community is now expressing concerns about Bill 96.
Health-care professionals at the forefront of containing monkeypox’s possible arrival in Montreal say it’s too early to know just how far the virus has spread.
A 12-year-old Ottawa boy is sharing his story after a magnet fishing trip turned up an unexpected find.
OC Transpo rider Max Well says he has lost two jobs after showing up to work late due to late or cancelled bus trips.
Nearly 70 people are getting emergency community support after fire ripped through a building in downtown Hanover, Ont.
Provincial police announced Wednesday the human remains found in the water in Dunnville, Ont., the day before are that of a young girl.
There has been a number of local incidents where trucks have hit bridges within the span of just over a week and it is causing concerns for driving instructors, community members and police.
As Ontario's election date approaches, two of the province’s four main political party leaders have tested positive for COVID-19.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath was set to kick off her northern tour in Sault Ste. Marie this week. However, after testing positive for COVID-19, Horwath is in isolation and unable to attend in-person campaign events for the time being.
Grades 7 and 8 students at École St-Denis are paying it forward as part of a class project.
Police say a "horrifically, grisly scene" near an apartment building where the partial remains of a woman were discovered this week has also taken investigators to a landfill.
Winnipeg police have arrested a 17-year-old male in connection to the death of a 31-year-old man who was found injured near Slaw Rebchuk Bridge before he died in hospital.
The taskforce aimed at reducing the surgical backlog in Manitoba says surgical procedures are consistently being performed at levels before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many shoppers in Metro Vancouver are looking for ways to stretch their grocery budget as they deal with the rising cost of food.
A small team of around 20 employees at Burnaby's Albert Labs recently received a Health Canada license to further pursue its work in producing psilocybin from mushrooms.
Wages vs. inflation: As costs rise, living wage advocates hope to see B.C. better address affordability
With Canada’s inflation rate hitting a 31-year high last month, people are paying a lot more for many basic needs including food and shelter, and wages have not kept up.
Two Canadian navy ships returned to their homeport in Esquimalt, B.C., on Thursday following their participation in Operation Caribbe, a counter-narcotics mission led by the U.S.
Two drivers were slapped with temporary driving bans and had their vehicles impounded for seven days after they were spotted speeding excessively on the Malahat highway, according to RCMP.
British Columbia's police watchdog has cleared the RCMP of any wrongdoing in the death of a man in Nanaimo, B.C., last month.