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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    About essarge

    Joined: Apr '01; Posts: 1,345; Likes: 12
    student nurse extern


  3. by   shyviolet78
    About 2 years ago I had problems with horrible lower abdominal pains. It was so bad, I had to call my hubby home from work to take me to the hospital one night. The ER doctor (a man) acted as if I was making my symptoms up, said it was probably an infection. Anyway, I was told to follow up with my primary doctor, and I did so the next week. My primary doctor (also a man) said he couldn't find anything wrong and sent me home with instructions to take Advil for the pain. After suffering for about a month, I finally called my Ob-Gyn (a woman) and went in to see her. She asked me a couple of questions and said I probably had endometriosis, scheduled a laparoscopy and sent me home with pain meds. I had the laparoscopy done, she lasered of the endometriosis and I haven't had any problems since. I don't understand why neither the ER doc or my primary doc (I now have a new primary doc!) couldn't ask these questions or at the very least act like they believed I was really in pain - endometriosis is a fairly common condition! Just my personal experience!!
  4. by   delirium
    Well, of course. There is prejudice in every field, unfortunately. There is usually prejudice in any group of people. But not to get me on a sociological tangent....
    At my hospital, I've witnessed a lesser degree of importance assigned to different groups of people. I won't say substandard health care, but... there seems to be something about skinny, drugged out looking white folk, or indigent people, or medicaid mothers, that makes their symptoms less of a priority.
    There is a website that chronicles a med student's experiences, and they are encouraged to 'practice' on the uninsured. There's this one part that I remember, they practice doing pelvics on indigent women who have come in for surgery... while they are under anesthesia, they all line up with their speculums and take a turn. Disgusting, really. I think the old boy system of medical school still trains doctors to be sort of unfeeling and prejudicial... I'm lucky enough to be of the middle class waspy variety, but I wonder how I would be treated in similar circumstances if I were not.
  5. by   shyviolet78

    That is really shocking about the med students "practicing" on uninsured patients! If I found out that med students had performed pelvic exams on me, without permission, as a "learning experience" I would feel terribly violated!! I have noticed this brand of predjudice at my own doctor's office. The patients that are on Medicaid are not treated the same as patients with private insurance. I have been present when a front desk secretary completely humiliated a patient without insurance. The patient was obviously not feeling well at all and asked the secretary how much longer he'd have to wait to see a doctor. She replied, "You're not paying for it anyway so why don't you go sit down! The rest of these people have a job to get back to after their appointments!" She said this very loudly and everyone in the packed waiting room could hear. The poor man was terribly embarrassed. I was glad to hear she was fired soon afterwards.
    Last edit by shyviolet78 on Jun 25, '01