Discrimination rears its ugly head in many aspects of life. Many of us would hope it would not play a part in medical care. Unfortunately, it does. A recent study reports that older adults, especially those of color, report having experienced racial or ethnic discrimination in some way in the course of their medical care. The effects impact not only their mental and physical health, but also their trust in the medical system.
Race, gender and age impact perceptions of treatment
Potential discrimination in the health care setting often involves more subtle and less conspicuous means than in other professions or workplaces. These include an incomplete review or even dismissal of a patient’s symptoms or verbalized health concerns, determining treatment based on a patient’s insurance or failure to provide language assistance. More than 61% of older adults who believe they have experienced discrimination in the medical setting were Black or from Latin backgrounds. Older patients who experience discrimination based on race or ethnicity often have more difficulty conveying these feelings owing to social isolation or financial hardship.
Gender also contributes to the perceived discrimination in health care. Across all ethnic groups, more women than men believe the health care system, generally, treats people differently based upon their race or ethnicity. Similarly, data show that a significantly higher percentage of women than men in all categories documented – Latinx, Black and white – believe the health care system treats them differently because of their race often or very often.
Understanding your situation
Debate will continue regarding various policy recommendations to eliminate discrimination in health care. Those who practice medicine understand that allegations of discrimination extend to age, gender, and other aspects of health care delivery. Attorneys with a knowledge base and experience in the specific discrimination issues that arise during the doctor-patient relationship can assist you.