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Giving Compass' Take:
• In an essay for The Conversation, a Howard University professor uses the case of a Black California teenager who died after routine surgery to explore the mistrust between minority groups and the medical profession.
• Being aware of abuse that Black patients received in the past is essential to understanding why African-Americans have lost their faith in the establishment. What can advocates and policymakers do to make sure there is equity?
California teenager Jahi McMath, who suffered catastrophic brain injury as a result of a routine tonsil surgery, died on June 22, 2018.
Her death came after four years of her family fighting in court to continue her care in California. Eventually, they moved her to a facility in New Jersey, a state that accommodates religious views that don’t recognize brain death.
Much of the popular discussion in the case centered on the family’s refusal to accept the diagnosis of brain death. However, as a philosopher who writes on bioethics and race, I believe an underappreciated aspect of the discussion was the role of race — both in how the medical personnel dealt with the family and how the family interpreted their interactions with the medical establishment ...
There are wide gaps in outcomes between whites and African-Americans in a variety of diseases. For example, the American Cancer Society reports that, of all the racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., African-Americans, are more likely to die from most cancers.
African-Americans also report lower quality of health care and greater dissatisfaction with the care they receive. In addition, they are significantly more likely to report experiencing racial discrimination and negative attitudes by healthcare personnel than non-Hispanic whites.
Medical mistrust and the resulting dissatisfaction have been connected to patient anxiety, as well as lower engagement in health care decision-making between patient and provider.
This mistrust makes African-Americans less likely to use the healthcare system. Along with other factors, such as limited insurance status and greater geographic distance from health care providers, it contributes to disparate health outcomes.
Read the full article about the role of race in medical care by Yolonda Wilson at The Conversation.