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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

When the Patient Is Racist

The New York Times - Doctor and Patient
Originally published July 25, 2013

Here is an excerpt:

The patient had suffered only broken bones, so after my evaluation I was happy to leave him to the orthopedic surgeons. When I expressed my relief to a colleague, he smiled. “I’m sure it freaked him out to have an Asian woman taking charge of his care,” he said after I had described the patient’s menacing tattoo and threatening reaction to me.

But then my colleague paused. “What you need to do is turn this into a ‘teaching moment,’” he finally said without the slightest hint of irony. “Sit down with the patient and educate him about racism.”

I remembered this colleague’s na├»ve remark, and the burly patient with the swastika tattoo, when I read an essay by Dr. Sachin H. Jain in a recent issue of The Annals of Internal Medicine on the medical profession’s attitude toward patients who discriminate against doctors.

Since Hippocrates, physicians have embraced the ideal of caring for all patients, regardless of who they might be. While the father of medicine struggled to be open-minded when it came to caring for slaves, doctors more recently have wrestled with caring for patients’ of different races, gender and sexual orientation. In 2000, the American Medical Association codified its opinion on the issue, issuing in its code of ethics a mandate that doctors could not refuse to care for patients based on any “invidious” discriminatory criteria like race or ethnicity.

The entire story is here.
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