Medical Industry Doesn’t Care When Patients Are Racist
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine (SUSM) conducted a survey on prejudice and medicine and published their shocking and revealing findings showing that there is a stigma of racism happening between patients and their physicians.
Rebecca Blankenburg, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at SUSM and co-author of the study explained that racism can negatively affect the patient’s treatment and the doctor’s ability to treat their patient.
Blankenburg said: “Because these things come up in the heat of the moment, we really need to prepare people so they’re ready to handle it no matter what the situation may be. What we were really struck by was that everyone has at least experienced discrimination or witnessed discrimination, so even if they aren’t the one being discriminated against, we all need tools. There are some papers that look at faculty or staff discrimination, but to specifically look at how patients and families discriminate against providers, this is the first of its kind.”
According to the SUSM findings, nearly fifteen percent of pediatric doctors were racially discriminated against by their patients. This problem is largely ignored by medical schools, residency training programs and the industry at large.
This small study of thirteen pediatric faculty members of SUSM were asked about discrimination in clinical scenarios. They found that “a lot of foreign medical graduates had stories about their accents and being discriminated against” which was directly tied to their patient’s ability to pronounce their name; regardless of whether the doctor was Latino, Middle Eastern or otherwise.
Patient’s response is almost always, ‘Oh I don’t want those kind to take care of me’.
For example, Dr. Sachin Jain, president of CareMore Health Systems (CMHS) is an Indian y heritage; however he was born in New York and raised in New Jersey.
Recalling an instance of racism, Jain said: “I regrettably reacted angrily towards the patient but was a bit disappointed when my colleagues minimized what had happened, taking the approach that it ‘comes with the territory’ of treating patients as a minority physician in America. Health care institutions have an obligation to set standards not only for how their staff interact with patients but also the reverse. Unfortunately, I think mistreatment and discrimination by patients is too common.”
Perhaps more disturbing is that the American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics does not address discrimination specifically show the doctor be the victim of racial bias; however there are detailed instructions on ethical treatment of patients who are “disruptive”.
Unfortunately, this problem is an old one. In 2002, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health published a study showing that patients whose race was the same as their doctor tended to rate them better as far as satisfaction.
To illustrate this point, just recently Dr. Tamika Cross, an African American OBGYN took to Facebook to share her experience with racial bias on a recent Delta fight.
Cross recalled that after offering to help an incapacitated man two rows in front of her, one Delta flight attendant said to Cross: “Oh, no, sweetie, put your hand down, we are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel; we don’t have time to talk to you.”
After Cross tried several times to explain she was a trained physician, the flight attendant cut her off with condescending remarks before finally asking for Cross’ credentials.
Following this exchange, a white man self-identifying as a doctor offered to help the flight attendant and was promptly taken to the passenger in trouble.
Cross’ post went viral along with the hashtag #WhatADoctorLooksLike .
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