When it comes to health care, you would think everything is equal. A life is a life, right? Unfortunately, interactions with the police are not the only times race affects treatment from those who are supposed to protect you. Multiple studies and reports have shown minorities receive a lower standard of care than Caucasians do, which leads to higher rates of medical malpractice.
Why do race and ethnicity have such an effect on health care, and what can you do about it?
The first issue is minorities, in general, tend to have less access to medical facilities, let alone quality care. You may lack proper insurance coverage, transportation and availability for appointments, making it a challenge to seek care. Facilities within reach may be understaffed and limited in the services they provide. Seeing specialists for specific medical conditions is likely to cost you out-of-pocket, causing you to either forego the treatment or seek it from someone less qualified or experienced.
Socioeconomic status only accounts for so much of the disparity in health care. Unfortunately, even if you are a minority with good insurance and a high income (and even a medical degree), medical care you receive may not be at the same level as that of your white counterparts. Medical providers have their own racial prejudices and discriminatory behaviors that affect how they treat minority patients. These attitudes can make providers less likely to take your concerns seriously and provide the services you need.
With so many immigrants in New York, language differences can create a communication barrier, which means you and your provider may not understand each other. Your provider may assume your accent means you are uneducated, and he or she may talk down to you and be disrespectful.
These factors contribute to insufficient care that results in missed or incorrect diagnoses, lack of needed services, incorrect treatment for your condition and patient mix-ups. One worst case scenario is your family filing a wrongful death claim on your behalf. If you suspect you have received improper care, speak with a medical malpractice attorney for guidance on what to do before your health gets worse.