Prejudice in healthcare

  1. I was watching a tv program the other night and they were talking about prejudice in the healthcare field.

    The case they used was an obese gentleman who presented with chest pains. The physician sent him to a cardiologist, who in turn decided, because of his obesity, that the only way to go was medications. The gentleman again, two weeks later, presented with chest pains and told the ER that he had taken several nitro and the pain was not alleviated. His physician again called in the cardiologist who decided to do bypass surgery. The gentleman tolerated the surgery very well and is healthy now.

    In the interview, the physician said that allot of times healthcare workers pre-judge people because of a variety of reasons (obesity, age etc.) and that perhaps this is prejudicial. I'm just curious if anyone has seen this, done this themselves, or even experience it themselves.

    The one thing that comes to mind for me is, when I had to have a hysterectomy and the first doctor told me that it was in my head (male doctor) and when I went to a female doctor she did a complete hysterectomy and I have been great ever since.

    To me it is kind of scary that a medical professional would pre-judge a person prior to knowing that individual person. I do realize that sometimes the situation calls for an immediate judgement, but how many times is someone pre-judged and necessary treatment is shelved or put off because of that.

    Just curious!!
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   catlady
    A classic example is the fact that pre-menopausal women were routinely considered hysterical if they presented with chest pain. I guess only real men were supposed to have MIs. It's only been in the last few years that doctors have been forced not to ignore women's cardiac problems.

    I have heard many, many nurses make derogatory comments about obese patients, particularly the ones who come in for gastric bypasses.
  4. by   RNPD
    hi catlady-are you the same poster from ns? if so, i am happy to see you posting and hope that things are better for you!

    i also have seen much prejudice against obese patients, as well as staff. people who wouldn't dream of publicly commenting on a person's sex, skin color, religion, etc, think nothing of making crude and cruel remarks about a person's size. when it affects their access to healthcare, it becomes criminal.all
  5. by   lpnandloveit1
    I am a large woman. I have strangers tell me the hamburger I'm eating isn't good for me of course they are usually eating a bacon double cheese burger. I once had a an er nurse loudly declare in earshot of me "You'd better call the guys in here I'm Not killing myself transfering this one" ( I had misscarried and was going for a D&C) When strange lay people can come up to me in the grocery store to tell me I'm fat it doen't suprise me at all the health care professionals would be predjudiced.
  6. by   essarge
    I guess the thing that totally amazes me is that someone in healthcare can be that way....when we are supposed to be the caretakers and non-judgemental!!!

    I walk away when someone starts speaking rudely about another person. I can't stand for someone to put down someone else. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and as healthcare workers we should keep the mouth shut and concentrate on helping that person that is asking for it!!! Without judgement even coming into the equation!!
  7. by   sWolfie
    I've seen alot of prejudice against people who don't have insurance. One time I had to run to the ER to pick some papers up and they were talking about this kid who was living on the streets, they more or less just left him sitting saying " he has nowhere to go so he can wait". They weren't even busy that day either.

    Sometimes I feel ashame to be in the medical field because of how some treat others. Everyone deserves the same amount of respect. Needless to say the doctors I encounter with have NO bedside manner......I would love to just SMACK em alongside their head.
  8. by   catlady
    Hi RNPD--do I know you under a different name? Peady, maybe? Yes, I am the same catlady who used to post at Nursing Spectrum. I'm still suffering from overwhelming anxiety. At least I'm finally on antidepressants, so I'm only anxious, not depressed. The doctor wants to start me on Inderal--I never heard of using it for anxiety.

    But to keep this on-topic, there's still a tremendous stigma, even in health care, against those who have psychiatric diagnoses. I am not yet willing to tell my employer that I am seeing a psychiatrist. There are many shades of mental illness, and most of them are no more under the control of the individual than cancer or diabetes, but we are treated as if we are potential ax-murderers and one step from the loony bin. And if you have any physical problems to go with your mental illness, you can rest assured your symptoms will be "all in your mind."
  9. by   RNPD
    catlady-yes, it's peady. I'm so glad to see that you are working it thru. A lot of us were getting kinda worried at NS, because you sounded so down and then disappeared. But another poster said she knew you personally and that you were doing OK. I am glad to see you in "person" and hear that you are getting help. As far as the Inderal, I was prescribed it for the same reason, but it didn't help me. I find that xanax prn works well for anxiety, but it is truly a stigma in the minds of some people. Hard to believe that healthcare professionals can be so prejudiced, and I have seen so much of it. Keep getting therapy and hang in there. Have you had your hormone levels checked? I don't know your age but if you're nearing menopause, I've read that the hormone fluctuations can result in free floating anxiety that disappears when HRT is used. If you are a candidate, look into it.

    BTW, I no longer regularly post at NS and the last time I was there, a lot of other "regulars" had either gone or cut down on their posting. Maybe some are back, haven't been there for a bit, but I am continuing my boycott so long as they continue to run scab ads. Don't recall your position on this issue, but it doesn't matter anyway. I wish you well and hope it keeps on getting better. BTW, your employer has no "need to know" about the psychiatrist. Employee Health maybe, employer, NO!
  10. by   crnasomeday
    Hi all. I know that this reply is getting off the subject somewhat, but I just wanted to respond to RNPD and catlady who were talking a little bit about anxiety meds. I've been having major anxiety and panic attacks and can't, for the life of me, find a doctor willing to prescribe Xanax for me. I've taken it in the past as a prn med and it's been the drug that has always worked best. I also liked that I only had to take it when I really needed it. It was just comforting to me to know that I had the bottle in my purse, and if I got too freaked out I could take one and it would work quickly and effectively. But now, even though I never had a problem with dependency or abuse of this drug, no doctor will prescribe it for me because of it's addiction potential. Instead they've tried me on a variety of daily meds - paxil, effexor, welbutrin, zoloft, elavil, etc. I hate taking something every single day like you have to with those drugs, and none of those drugs has worked to control my anxiety (maybe because they're ANTIDEPRESSANTS and I'm not depressed). The other thing that irritates me about this situation is that I have to pay for these drugs out of pocket, and while the current one that I'm taking, Effexor, costs me nearly $160 month, a bottle of xanax costs about $12.
    My doctor also wanted to try me on inderal BTW because the thing that brought me in for treatment was heart palpitations (PVCs as I found out) which were being brought on by anxiety. I had to beg pretty much for them to treat the anxiety because I know that's the underlying cause. My heart is fine, and I really don't want to be 29 years old and on a beta-blocker.
    In a way, I guess that this really isn't off the topic because I feel like the drug that I know works best for me won't be prescribed to me because of my health care provider's prejudged notions. I'm so frustrated with this and I don't want to have to go "doctor shopping" so that I can find one to prescribe this med for me. I've been to two different doctors so far, my GP and also a doctor at the campus health center, and both just don't seem to want to listen to me. Any ideas yall? I'm so frustrated.
    Thanks for letting me get off the subject. I'm sorry 'bout that.

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