Nicole Jackson, MD, Director of Diversity Programs, Department of Family Medicine at Boston Medical Center. Instructor in Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine Primary Care and Urgent Care Physician, Codman Square Health Center.
Underserved Patients Are Impacted by Negative Stereotype Threats
Medical bias is brought about by the so-called cognitive filter, or cognitive distortion. It happens when parts of the human brain begin to warn us of the stranger danger. Human beings develop a particular reaction towards people of a different socioeconomic background.
Because the medical field is all about human endeavors, we tend to carry their implicit bias with them. The tendency could either come from the patient or the medical practitioner.
To achieve equity in health facilities, every health care provider should take up the responsibility to mitigate the effect of bias in medicine in all levels of interactions and points of contact with their patients. It is essential because, in most cases, medical preference is the cause of patients being underserved.
There have been tremendous steps toward solving cases of medical bias. Some healthcare facilities have mandatory cultural competency training to address the confrontations with alienated and underserved patients. The anti-bias training sessions of the healthcare provider to help identify and reduce the chances of medical bias.
Just like with other cases of social injustices, society has strategies to bridge the equality gap. People and corporates are sponsoring gender equality forums as well as anti-racism campaigns in all social aspects. The medical field is not left behind in this.
However, this alone has not been enough. We still have cases of underserved patients as a result of medical bias. Some medical practitioners defy this change, and patients continue to suffer due to such unethical behavior.
Avenues to Help Underserved Patients Demand Accountability
There is hope, though, because the underserved patients can hold such providers accountable for such bias experiences in clinical encounters. Here is how they can do it.
Confront the Providers
In some cases, the organization is not responsible for events of medical bias. As said earlier, most modern healthcare providers have established means to eradicate such instances. So, when an underserved patient confronts the respective providers, the culprit can be held responsible for their accords.
The ethical thing to do is here for the administration to make a public apology and mend their mistakes. Depending on the impact of such medical negligence, the said staff might even get a suspension or expulsion.
Take Up Actions with The Relevant Authorities
Ever the health care system has an oversight body than is legally registered by the national government. Just like other victims of medical malpractices, underserved patients can present their valid complaints to such bodies.
All the medical specialists in America operate under the single banner of the American Medical Association. The body should be able to use concrete evidence to bring a truce between the patient and the providers.
If one party is not satisfied with the ruling, they can take up the action with a higher body, even a civil court of justices. If the underserved presents enough valid evidence, the court or the medical practitioners’ body will rule in their favor and hold the said provider accountable.
Human Rights Organizations
The modern world has a public watchdog in every sector. In cases where a patient is subjected to medical bias because of their race, sex, or religion, they can always call for human rights organizations to intervene on their behalf.
We have an organization that champions gender equality, cultural inclusivity, and anti-racism campaigns. They look for loopholes in their respective field and are always available to seek justice on behalf of victims.
Underserved patients can seek help from such groups and compel the respective health provider to take responsibility for their professional negligence. It is hard to ignore them as they follow so loud in their quests.
The world we are living in today has everyone connected to social media, and so are patients. Whenever a patient experiences bias in their clinical encounters and their complaints are futile, they can always turn to the voice of many.
Maybe another patient had suffered the same in silence. When one underserved patient airs their frustrations out there, others will come up, and together the masses will support their quest for justice.
Such occurrences paint a terrible picture of the facility, and no one wants that for their organization. More than one times, we have seen a series of public outcry elicit a candid and quick positive response from health providers.
Patient Orator App
We’re launching a HIPAA-compliant mobile health app that helps the patient document changes in their medical condition and help them connect to health care resources. The app also allows patients to update their caregivers in real-time empowering all parties with vital information about changes in the patient’s health. To learn more about how the app helps to improve patient-physician communication and help patients hold their care teams accountable while improving their communication, sign up for our newsletter.
Every human being should get proper medical assistance regardless of their age, gender, political affiliation, and race. There are many avenues that underserved patients could follow to report cases of medical bias. With the correct channels, they hold respective providers and or physicians responsible.
Request Patient Orator’s Webinar via the events page to learn more about this issue.