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Racial Bias In Health Care, From Pain Pills To COVID-19



Racial Bias In Health Care, From Pain Pills To COVID-19

The black community of the USA was suffering racial bias in the field of the health sector for over more than a decade from even pain pills to this COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s unconscious, explicit, institutional, or racial discrimination kills patients of color, health care experts agree. Major research conducted in the USA itself on this documented disparities in rates of discrimination in healthcare settings across race, immigrant status, and language proficiency.

Racial Bias In Health Care, From Pain Pills To COVID-19

They also found an association between experiences of racial discrimination within healthcare and lower rates of preventive care use. Once, the actress Alicia Cole developed life-threatening infections after what was supposed to be a minor surgery in 2006. Cole recalls details of the racial bias she encountered at the hospital as clearly as the physical ones she suffered. Cole said,

Racial Bias In Health Care, From Pain Pills To COVID-19

“People stay away and try to take care of it at home or with a nurse or a doctor at the church. They want to talk to someone who genuinely cares and is not judging them at the same time. That’s really important, and not just for Blacks.”

Hospitals Miscalculating the care needs of Black patients 

The research conducted on last October found that the hospitals are miscalculating the care needs of sicker Black patients through an algorithm. Dr. Howard Koh, a professor at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and former Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary, calls COVID-19 a “fast pandemic being fueled by a slower pandemic of disparities in chronic conditions. Studies have shown even the most well-intentioned physician or medical professional demonstrate unconscious bias in caring for others.

That’s why explicit and consistent training and education and commitment to cultural competence is absolutely critical for the future of our health care workforce.” A common condition that makes the health of Black women worse is uterine fibroids. About 70% of Black women have uterine fibroids and are encouraged to have risky surgeries to remove them which makes them forced sterilization. So a change should be started by focusing on the area itself. If it is caused to a woman there would be multiple ways to prevent or cure fibroids.

Dr. Joy Scott, an Oakland, California, obstetrician, and gynecologist at Highland Hospital, has many Black patients with fibroids. Scott went through her medical school residency looking like she was six months pregnant before she could finally have her fibroids removed and surgery was the only option.

She consulted many physicians to avoid surgery and to find an effective alternative.

But their response was disheartening and they don’t do anything and don’t seek a second opinion. Sickle cell disease was discovered more than 100 years ago and it is another disease that gets ignored when Blacks are the victims.

Even the pharmacies resume to pick up the medicines. Black communities are more likely to have fewer health clinics or hospitals that lack key medical services such as maternity wards. Black women are three times more likely to die from their delivery.

The algorithm of the USA health sector calculates health costs rather than health needs. The company that made this algorithm claimed that the algorithm is not racially biased and the study mischaracterized it based on one hospital system’s incorrect use. Anyway, the racial bias and discrimination in the USA health sector were now shining in COVID-19 treatment too.      

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