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Comments on news and blogs

2018: Inaugural Issue

Comment on American Nurse Today: Confronting Racism in Health Care

December 5, 2018


This is a comment on an article on American Nurse Today:

Something to note is that in talking to people about their experiences in health care further emphasize that subtle bias is harmful, no matter how minor it seems. Deflecting these incidents as such allows us to dismiss our inherent biases, which in turn build a health care system that negatively affects minorities, and sometimes endangers them. Sometimes these biases are unconscious. This is why people who say it is not a race problem miss the point: by saying that racism in health care does not exist, they undermine the numerous stories for minority patients who do not receive the help they need because doctors do not believe them. Just because it is something that they do not experience, does not mean it does not exist. This is a real problem that the medical community must be responsible for and recognize.

In this article (, for example, Yellowknife citizen Jennifer Lafferty describes a humiliating hospital visit where she was in extreme pain, and doctors and nurses dismissed her, noting that she was “hyperventilating” in her emergency record. Lafferty would later be diagnosed with strep throat and an 8.3mm kidney stone, and still has not been contacted for an apology.

Lafferty is an Indigenous woman, who notes that not being taken seriously by medical professionals is not an uncommon experience for Indigenous people. It is one of many stories that CBC reports where Indigenous people report that they are not being treated with respect, and that their symptoms are not treated as they should.

I make this point to urge for more empathy in the medical community, and for them to make a rconscious effort to listen to minorities. It is uncomfortable to acknowledge that racial biases exist in the health care system, but a necessary step to take.

(This comment can be found here.)