Race Bias in Emergency Rooms

Tests of ER trainees find signs of race bias in care – The B…

Public Health Emergency
“Researchers have known for years that African-Americans in the midst of a heart attack are far less likely than white patients to receive potentially life-saving treatments such as clot-busting drugs, a dramatic illustration of America’s persistent healthcare disparities.”

“Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, Massachusetts secretary of health and human services and a specialist in healthcare disparities, said the study demonstrates the importance of monitoring how hospitals and large physician practices provide care to patients of different races.”

I am aware that many Americans believe racism is either greatly diminished or a thing of the past.  I’ve also always understood that individuals who believed this were generally incapable of forming solid empirical arguments.  Moreover, these individuals either demonstrated a flawed knowledge of how racism flourished in the past and recent present OR were being compensated for espousing their particular unsubstantiated viewpoint.

I will not say that this study closes the door.  I will say, however, that if you reside, visit or run aground in the United States of America and happen to need emergency care, it is best to be identified as “white.”  I harbor no illusions about the dimensions of the psychopathic racial personality.  Whether the face is that of an overworked 24 year-old resident or that of a chief of medicine entering their sixth or seventh decade of life, the notion that non-white life is cheap has persisted.  It is a strange thing to share lunch counters, toilets and voting booths with “people” who hold you in such low regard.

Imagine how foolish I would be to call that freedom.

6 comments

  1. I am writing a dissertation on racism and population control. The intellectual origins of the project stem from Dorothy Roberts’ (e.g., Killing the Black Body) and other scholars.

    Here is a graph that relates to differential treatment of women by “race” (racism) when it comes to performing tubal sterilization:

    At a more direct level there are all kinds of horror stories reported by non-“white” women of going into surgery for one procedure and leaving with their tubes tied, their uterus removed, etc.

    Addtionally, Medicaid fully funded the insertion of Norplant, but did not pay for its removal.

  2. Thus, the medical establishment, just like any institution in the U.S. is racist.

    It is frightening to know that when one enters the emergency room their condition will not be treated as an emergency while a “white” person with a less threatening ailment will be prioritized. Frightening!

  3. I’m not going to debate whether racial bias exists in the medical field. I’m am going to debate the accuracy of the trials you’re citing.

    Studies in other cities have shown that the disparity between administration rates of certain tretments may have other causes than simple subconscious racism.

    See:
    1) http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/417682_4
    2) http://pt.wkhealth.com/pt/re/amhj/abstract.00000406-199902000-00026.htm;jsessionid=GlQHjZpJ1Tz2sRMLvG2TgX2SG2Q59vWR5228TRVLJ6V2tdR2kCYT!1683421839!181195628!8091!-1
    3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=9016420&dopt=Abstract

    I believe that it’s important NOT to dilute a message such as racism in medicine with inflammatory statements that are easy to argue against or even refute.

    Just my $0.02

  4. Thanks. Can’t get at the first link. The second study is 8 years old. The third is 11 years old. Are you aware of follow up studies being completed to follow up on this work.

    Also, have you read the Harvard study in question? Thanks again for the added context.

  5. Sorry about that first link; medscape JUST locked down their site. I’ve read the Harvard Study – though not thoroughly enough to make an enlightened commentary on it.

    I doubt though that time-to-presentation is going to have changed much, nor the issue with too many variables in a study group. I do not doubt that both conscious and subconscious bias effects the medical industry.

    I just think that further “proof” is needed in order to rule out other possible causes for discrepencies in care. Sometimes bias is other than race.

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