Fighting For Justice And Your Best Interests

Does the color of your skin matter to your medical care?

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2023 | Medical Malpractice |

When you have a medical problem, you expect your medical providers to focus on your condition, not your skin color – but study after study has shown that systemic disparities in health care continue to put people of color in unnecessary danger.

Implicit racial biases are pervasive throughout society, and medical providers aren’t immune. Here’s how your skin color can affect the medical treatment you receive:

Delayed diagnoses and misdiagnoses

A delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis can have severe health consequences, but implicit racial biases may cause physicians to overlook or dismiss symptoms in minority patients, leading to delays in necessary interventions. 

For instance, research indicates that Black patients are more likely to die from cancer and heart disease than White patients, and to have overall shorter lifespans, even when they have otherwise equal backgrounds. That indicates their complaints aren’t taken as seriously nor treated as aggressively as the health complaints of White patients.

Unequal access to quality medical care

Even when White patients and patients of color have access to the same doctors and hospitals, they don’t necessarily have equal care. Implicit biases can affect health care providers’ decision-making regarding treatment options, referrals and access to specialists. 

For example, studies show that physicians are more likely to offer White patients pain relief than they are to Black patients. They’re also less likely to offer Black patients newer, more aggressive and more effective treatments for everything from cancer and diabetes to heart conditions and mental health issues – regardless of what insurance their Black patients have. 

In addition, people of color are less likely to be able to find providers of their own race, which can negatively affect the trust and communication level between patients and their doctors.

If you believe that you were injured or a loved one was harmed by a medical provider’s mistakes, you do have legal options – whether racial biases played a role in what happened or not.