Racism in Hospitals

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Nowadays, the issue of racism in hospitals is the sad reality that people face all over the world. Besides, racial discrimination and bias in hospitals are also connected with the social status of people who are in need of professional medical help. For example, the absence of insurance may become a serious problem for a person. The following paper aims to explore the scope of the problem of racism in hospitals. In addition, the other problems such as poverty, belonging to lower social classes, and the absence of insurance will be addressed in the paper.

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Main Body

Medical institutions are supposed to be calm havens free from all kinds of injustice and bias. However, today’s reality in health care institutions is different. Both patients and medical workers suffer from racial prejudice. Moreover, many people are in need of medical help witnessed the problem of bias based on social position and economic status. The examples of this distressing consistency are numerous. For instance, after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2011 people belonging to Arab ethnic group began to experience biased attitude on the part of medical personnel in hospitals. The situation of an Arabian woman with a son on a serious medical treatment every month is an eloquent illustration of the above mentioned utterance.

The woman noticed that the medical personnel that used to be responsive and attentive began avoiding her and her son and acting unfriendly after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 (Johnstone and Kanitsaki 64). Another example illustrating the necessity to interfere into the situation in health care institutions is an experience of a man belonging to native people. This man was diagnosed with tuberculosis and admitted into a hospital. The personnel of the hospital demonstrated their discriminatory attitude towards him by calling the man dirty, speaking of him as of a degrading person, avoiding offering him the necessary medical help, and restricting him from meeting his family members. Moreover, nurses in the hospital believed that the man was to be treated in a different way because of his poverty. They even pushed him to take shower twice a day since they felt uncomfortable being around him (Johnstone and Kanitsaki 65).

Speaking about racism in hospitals, the very notion behind the word racism is to be identified. According to Johnstone and Kanitsaki (66), “the term racism is typically defined as a dislike, hatred and fear of people belonging to races other than one’s own, often wedded to the conviction that some races are fundamentally superior to others.” In hospitals, racism may be noticed in a variety of areas. First of all, doctors and nurses may demonstrate their prejudiced attitude towards patients belonging to racial and ethnic minorities. Specialists explain racism in hospitals as poor care, which can be seen from the following comment “the attitudes and behaviors that are commonly associated with racist and racialised practice include antipathy, avoidance, ignoring, disengagement, rejection, disgust, contempt, scorn, ridicule, and indifference” (Johnstone and Kanitsaki 67).

Secondly, patients may choose to have only white medical personnel. Lastly, racism may combine with the other grounds for bias shown by doctors and nurses including economic and social ones. When racism is demonstrated along with other types of discriminatory attitudes, the victims of the problem find themselves especially oppressed. Racism in hospitals is the evil that discredits contemporary health care system in the United States (O'Connor 285).

The situation with the spread of racism in hospitals continues to be complicated despite the hard work of numerous human rights activists. Although the efforts of those lovers of justice laid to considerable improvements in the area of medical care over the past few decades, the situation continues to be rather complicated. Racism is still present in hospitals, but today it has concealed forms that are not so self-evident on the face of a situation. The following comment by Johnstone and Kanitsaki (64) enlarges on the matter “racism per se and its harmful consequences to and in health care domains have been largely ignored, and for the most part remains poorly addressed at an individual and institutional health service level.” Racism in medical institutions has a changing face. From day to day it is demonstrated in the most diversified ways. This peculiarity explains why the efforts of human rights activists aiming to conquer this wickedness are ineffective.

Racism is not only the problem of patients in medical institutions. It is also a serious issue for the medical personnel. Facts demonstrate the sad tendency for medical doctors and nurses, who belong to racial minorities. White workers are more likely to occupy leading positions in health care institutions than those from ethnic minorities (Zamudio and Rios 484). Besides, patients sometimes demonstrate their prejudiced attitude towards medical doctors and nurses of color. This tendency is explained by the idea that black people are inferior intellectually. The concept of poor intelligence of people of color has been introduced by a group of chauvinist activists at the beginning of the 20th century. Since then, a number of white citizens continue showing their bias towards medical personnel belonging to racial and ethnic minorities.

The problem of racism in hospitals is especially significant for black people. White Americans usually receive better health care than black (O'Connor 285). The same situation is common for Native and Hispanic Americans since they also face racial prejudice on the reason of their race. Facts demonstrate the sad reality such as people belonging to racial minorities are more likely to have such serious diseases as diabetes, all kinds of cancer, heart problems, brain attacks, tuberculosis, chronic respiratory diseases, digestive tract diseases, and diseases of the musculoskeletal system (LaVeist 78). Of course, the reason of such a tendency with morbidity among the racial minorities in the United States lies not only on the surface; namely, in the fact that the affected population has a certain color of skin. In reality, the problem is far-reaching. Particularly, non-white Americans acquire worse education than white ones. People of national minorities are also members of lower social classes such as under-paid workers or clerks. This leads to the next problem for them since they are not able to find a high paying job.

As a result, they do not have enough money to pay for their treatment. Moreover, people belonging to racial minorities are pushed to live in bad conditions. Thus, they have to bear with the fact that they spoil their health by living next to dangerous manufactures, where both air and water are polluted (Racism still runs deep 2). Very often it is difficult for them to support even the basic standards of hygiene. Normally, they do not have an access to clean water and established system of debris removal.

Prejudiced attitude towards patients of different ethnicity is not the only problem for non-white Americans. Many of them do not have enough means to acquire medical insurance. This leads to even a greater problem as American healthcare system is fee-based and rather expensive, which leaves no other option for patients without insurance. Thus, the only way for a patient to pay for medical services is to have insurance. Although American legislation offers basic emergency care for all people without any charges, it often happens that it is not enough to help the needy ones. In this vein, people without medical insurance have to postpone preventive health care measures such as complete check-ups and childhood immunizations. In addition, they may not have a full access to medication prescriptions from doctors. If they still acquire doctors’ recommendations, the further problem is to pay for treatment services and medicines. As a result, poor people subject themselves to further health problems. These problems become the virtuous circle for unprotected people since they are not able to pay for healthcare, and get sick, and they have no financial security as they cannot find substantial income because of their poor health.

The government is aware of the financial problems of people who are insecure financially. In order to help such people, authorities developed a system of medical cards. Medical cards from the government cover a number of medical services for people of low financial capacity. However, the problem is that medical insurance and medical cards are different. Whereas medical insurance covers all types of medical expenses completely, medical cards from the government mostly provide a discount. For poor people, such solution is not a panacea because very often they do not have means to provide for healthcare services at all. Thus, in a line insured people versus uninsured ones versus people with the medical card from the government, the owners of the medical card do not have vantage. Definitely, a person with a medical card from the government is better protected than the one without insurance. Still, the best option is to have medical insurance.


Concluding on all the above discussed information, it is important to note that racism in hospitals is the burning issue in modern American society. People from ethnic minorities usually have low social and financial status. Thus, they may not afford having medical insurance. As a result, such people do not have an access to sufficient medical care. This creates a scourge of our time in American healthcare system. The nation becomes vulnerable to serious healthcare threats on the reason of racism and biased attitude to poor people from ethnic minorities.