Bioethics Blogs

Confronting Race Issues in Medicine


As I am writing this, our nation is
mourning both the death of several police officers in Dallas, and the end of
two more young black men’s lives at the hands of police in Minnesota and
Louisiana.
  The issues of racial
prejudice, racial distrust, and racial profiling and stereotyping affect every
aspect of American life and culture, and so medicine is certainly not an
exception.
  Despite what I would wish, I
know that I have racial prejudices, and perhaps at times my patients can sense
them. But if medicine in non-unique in its racism, it bears a special
responsibility to heal itself so it can best heal others.


            I
remember a few years ago when I was still working in Oregon, I received the
evening sign-out from my partner as I took over the management of Labor and
Delivery for the night shift.
  In room 8,
she reported, there was an African-American woman with her partner.
  Labor was progressing slowly, and she would
need a check soon.
  My partner commented
that they seemed to have a lot of questions, and seemed a bit suspicious of her
decisions.
  I went in a few minutes later,
wary of what kind of reception I might receive.
 
True to my fears with the patient was a young black man wearing a hoodie
with the hood shading his face in an already dark room.
  I braced myself for a potentially contentious
discussion, and asked them how things were going from their perspective.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.