Racism and Discrimination in Health Care
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The life expectancy of Aboriginal men is 21 years shorter than for non-Aboriginal men in Australia.
In American society, we like to think of ourselves as progressive and free of biases when it comes to treating people similar or different from us. We pride ourselves on being an open society that treats everyone equally; unfortunately, we know that is not the case in reality. With the rise of controversial figures on both sides of the political spectrum, there is clearly still mending to be done for race relations. The United States institutionalized discrimination, and those negative prejudices still carry over into our society today as Barbara Fields explains in her article Ideology and Race in American History. Due to these negative stereotypes and prejudices forming in this nation’s inception, people were sectioned off into different categories now known as race. This construct decided if people were treated either respectfully or poorly. Those of European descent were treated with respect and those of African American descent were treated poorly. The literature reviewed explores the impact and prevalence of healthcare discrimination that helped shape the current study. This chapter will provide context for racism and discrimination in this country (US); it will define and explore healthcare discrimination; discuss the impact of discrimination in healthcare for this AfricanAmericans, and examine the mechanisms of such discrimination and provide factors that can reduce its prevalence for healthcare professionals.
Dr. Saadi’s words hold very true: “We — as physicians and society more generally — must realize that the struggles of one marginalized community are struggles of all of us. My fight as a Muslim-American doctor to serve my patients without fear of racism, and the fight of an African-American patient to be treated with dignity and respect, should also be your fights.” To that end, the call to action to address racism and discrimination in medicine is for all of us, providers and patients (Rachel R. Hardeman, 2016).
Other recommendations include taking patients to courts for subjecting healthcare practitioners to disciplinary measures.
National Center for Health Statistics (US). Health, United States, 2015: With Special Feature on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. Hyattsville, MD:
National Center for Health Statistics (US); 2016 May. Report No.: 2016-1232.
The Department of Health and Human Services, United States (HHS). National partnership for action to end health disparities: Offices of Minority Health. Washington, DC, 2011.
Rachel R. Hardeman, Ph.D., M.P.H., Eduardo M. Medina, M.D., M.P.H., and Katy B. Kozhimannil, Ph.D., M.P.A. Structural Racism and Supporting Black Lives — The Role of Health Professionals. New England Journal of Medicine, October 12, 2016.
King CJ, Redwood Y. The Health Care Institution, Population Health and Black Lives. Journal of the National Medical Association, May 2016.
Sreshta, Nina, et al. The Social Justice Coalition of the Cambridge Health Alliance: An open letter to our patients in the Trump era.