A Sickle Cell Data Collection (SCDC) program study found that people with SCD living in California go to the ED an average of 3 times a year during their late teens and continue this pattern into their late 50’s.1 A Tennessee study reported that African Americans with SCD go to the ED two to six times more than African Americans without SCD.2
Patients with SCD frequently have difficulty getting proper treatment when they arrive in the ED. One study found that they wait 25% longer to see a doctor in the ED than do other patients, even though people with SCD tend to have worse pain.3
Once patients with SCD are seen by an ED healthcare provider, they may experience further barriers to care. Examples include being perceived as drug-seeking and being doubted when they report the severity of their pain.4
Constance recalls landing her first contract for modeling, a lifelong dream, at age 22. Between doctor appointments, ED visits, and pain crises, a determined Constance made 13 hour road trips to reach her modeling jobs in Philadelphia. “From the time I left to the time I got back, I was in pain, but I had medication and tried to manage it as best as possible,” says Constance. “I was chasing after my dream and I wanted it to be a reality. I could taste it.”
Inevitably, Constance’s pain went from bad to worse. One day while in the hospital, she received a call from her agency about an audition for a runway show. However, her severe pain kept her from making it more than 3 feet from the hospital bed.