Daily Archives: Apr. 27th, 08

Racism & Healthcare

I came across this article and found it interesting. I had heard about this before in college, only briefly. This kind of thing is what I point to when people say racism is no longer an issue. Race enters into the equation where people least expect it. We need to be more vigilant in scoping out how racism emerges since we are no longer dealing with the in-your-face, cross-burning, Jim Crow racism of yesteryear. This is the new racism and, as you can see, it is costing us. 

Race and the white coat: Racial bias in doctors and healthcare workers is doing great harm. Is enough being done to stop it? 

By Rahul K. Parikh, M.D.


Apr. 22, 2008 | Here’s something the medical community has known for a long time: Minorities in this country, particularly African-Americans, are not as healthy as whites. They suffer from high rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV, cancer, asthma and other chronic illnesses.

There are many reasons for the disparities. Blacks have less access to healthcare. Many lack health insurance altogether. A study in the New England Journal of Medicineshowed that black communities have fewer primary care doctors, and that those doctors reported a harder time getting their patients quality services due to insurance restrictions.

When minorities get sick, they’re likely to show up in an emergency room because they don’t have anywhere else to go. When they get there, they’re usually sicker because of the delay in seeking care. As the New England Journal study showed, minorities are more likely to get a doctor who isn’t board certified and is of lower quality.

In 2002, the Institute of Medicine issued a sobering report about health disparities in America. In that report, the IOM challenged assumptions by asking one very hard question: Do doctors treat minority patients differently? Its answer, after reviewing more than 100 studies, was yes, “evidence suggests that bias, prejudice and stereotyping on the part of health care providers may contribute to differences in care.”

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