Most people think of medical professionals as highly educated and even as particularly ethical when compared with the average person. After all, medical doctors often have to prioritize their career and the care of their patients over their own desires and wishes. Doing no harm is part of the oath they take when they become doctors.
However, simply having a commitment to a profession does not mean that a position is above the common failings of human nature, such as discrimination, internalized biases and even racism. Doctors can end up harming patients by making judgments about their health based on factors such as their race, national origin or even gender.
In fact, research about the attitudes of physicians and the care that individuals of different national and racial backgrounds receive makes it clear that the unspoken biases held by a doctor can directly impact the quality of care that a patient receives. Those unfairly treated by their physician because of their country of origin or racial background may have grounds for medical malpractice claims due to the inadequate care they received.
Physicians may not listen as carefully to the symptoms presented by some
A subtle racial bias in a medical professional can mean that they have a different approach when caring for different people because of the color of their skin. For example, physicians are more likely to suspect drug-seeking behavior among certain populations, such as African-American or female patients, when compared with white male patients.
People presenting serious symptoms may not receive a timely diagnosis or the care that they need if a doctor lets their racial biases impact the care they provide. Inadequate pain management, in particular, can impact someone’s prognosis by unnecessarily adding to the strain their body endures after an injury or during an illness.
There have even been physicians who have made public statements indicating that they intentionally make mistakes when providing care for members of certain racial groups. If you clearly communicated issues to your physician that went unaddressed and you suspect that racial bias played a role in your doctor’s failure to treat or diagnose you properly, it may be time to consider taking action to not only protect yourself but other vulnerable people who may see the same doctor in the future.