Disparate Utilization of Urine Drug Screen Nationwide in the Evaluation of Acute Chest Pain

Link to article at PubMed

West J Emerg Med. 2023 Mar 6;24(2):135-140. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2022.11.58231.


INTRODUCTION: Urine drug screens (UDS) have unproven clinical utility in emergency department (ED) chest pain presentations. A test with such limited clinical utility may exponentiate biases in care, but little is known about the epidemiology of UDS use for this indication. We hypothesized that UDS utilization varies nationally across race and gender.

METHODS: This was a retrospective observational analysis of adult ED visits for chest pain in the 2011-2019 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. We calculated the utilization of UDS across race/ethnicity and gender and then characterized predictors of use via adjusted logistic regression models.

RESULTS: We analyzed 13,567 adult chest pain visits, representative of 85.8 million visits nationally. Use of UDS occurred for 4.6% of visits (95% CI 3.9%-5.4%). White females underwent UDS at 3.3% of visits (95% CI 2.5%-4.2%), and Black females at 4.1% (95% CI 2.9%-5.2%). White males were tested at 5.8% of visits (95% CI 4.4%-7.2%), while Black males were tested at 9.3% of visits (95% CI 6.4%-12.2%). A multivariate logistic regression model including race, gender, and time period shows significantly increased odds of ordering UDS for Black patients (odds ratio [OR] 1.45 (95% CI 1.11-1.90, p = 0.007)) and male patients (OR 2.0 (95% CI 1.55-2.58, p < 0.001) as compared to White patients and female patients.

CONCLUSION: We identified wide disparities in the utilization of UDS for the evaluation of chest pain. If UDS were used at the rate observed for White women, Black men would undergo nearly 50,000 fewer tests annually. Future research should weigh the potential of the UDS to magnify biases in care against the unproven clinical utility of the test.

PMID:36976604 | DOI:10.5811/westjem.2022.11.58231

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