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12 April 2016 @ 11:47 am
Medical Schools Fail At Counteracting Racial Bias  
I keep reading about studies indicating that black people--including children--are not treated properly for pain because doctors and other hospital personnel mistakenly think they don't feel pain in the same way as white people. I have wondered whether this bias is sufficiently addressed in medical school.

Then I read this: The Patient Called Me 'Colored Girl.' The Doctor Training Me Said Nothing.

Excerpt:

Medicine struggles with a chronic disease: racism.

Medical schools try to combat this disease with diversity initiatives and training in unconscious bias and cultural sensitivity. I’m about to graduate from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, so I’ve been through such programs.

They’re not enough.

Every one of us needs to own the principles that protect us and our patients from racism and bias. That means learning to see prejudice and speaking up against it. But that is far, far easier said than done.

Again and again during my four years of training, I encountered racism and ignorance, directed either at patients or at me and other students of color. Yet it was very hard for me to speak up, even politely, because as a student, I felt I had no authority — and didn’t want to seem confrontational to senior physicians who would be writing my evaluations.

These situations made me worry for our future: How can medical professionals address the needs of a rapidly diversifying population, when we cannot address prejudice within our own community? </blockquote>

See also:

Gender bias https://psmag.com/is-medicine-s-gender-bias-killing-young-women-4cab6946ab5c#.pxhno9uqz and http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/emergency-room-wait-times-sexism/410515/?utm_source=SFFB

Anti-fat bias and misdiagnosis: http://www.prevention.com/health/medical-fat-shaming

More about racial bias including pain treatment and medical school misinformation:

https://www.statnews.com/2016/03/10/medical-schools-teaching-race/ "Medical students looking to score high on their board exams sometimes get a bit of uncomfortable advice: Embrace racial stereotypes.

"You see ‘African American,’ automatically just circle ‘sickle cell,’” said Nermine Abdelwahab, a first-year student at the University of Minnesota Medical School, recounting tips she’s heard from older classmates describing the “sad reality” of the tests.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/04/04/do-blacks-feel-less-pain-than-whites-their-doctors-may-think-so/

African Americans are routinely under-treated for their pain compared with whites, according to research. A study released Monday sheds some disturbing light on why that might be the case.

Researchers at the University of Virginia quizzed white medical students and residents to see how many believed inaccurate and at times "fantastical" differences about the two races -- for example, that blacks have less sensitive nerve endings than whites or that black people's blood coagulates more quickly. They found that fully half thought at least one of the false statements presented was possibly, probably or definitely true.

Moreover, those who held false beliefs often rated black patients' pain as lower than that of white patients and made less appropriate recommendations about how they should be treated.

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/black-kids-get-less-pain-medication-white-kids-er-n427056

Black children with acute appendicitis -- a clearly painful emergency -- are less likely than white children to get painkillers in the emergency room, researchers reported Monday.

And nearly as troubling, only about half of any of the kids got painkillers, even though they're strongly recommended in cases of appendicitis, the researchers found.