How much care is in health care?

Discrimination is rampant in health care in all shapes and sizes

More stories from Lauren Spierings

COVID on campus
April 1, 2021

Photo by Submitted

Diagnostic errors cause 40,000 to 80,000 deaths in the United States in health care alone.

Black and indigenous women are two to three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women.

It isn’t a difference in biology or genetics that causes this, despite what some people might say. It is due to the systemic racism present in so much of the rest of the world today.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the pregnancy mortality rate among women over 30 is four to five times larger in black and indigenous women. 

Black people alone make up about 13.4% of the population in the United States. However, the number of Black pregnancy mortalities far outnumbers white and hispanic deaths, according to NBC

It’s not just birth mortality rates either. A common story among people of color is one where they go to the hospital or their health care clinic for some reason. Often they are treated as if they are lying, as if they are just trying to get free drugs out of the doctors, solely based on the color of their skin.

Just based on the color of their skin, there is some inherent bias in the health care system which causes people to die. It is horrifying and discouraging that one single fact about a person can mean life or death.

Doctors take on oaths to care for every person they take on, regardless of who they are, and to do it well. But that simply does not happen consistently. 

There is also the fact that it’s not just one-sided racism. Nurses, doctors and other health care practitioners also have to deal with racism against them, even from the people they are trying to help.

It’s not just skin color that determines how well a patient is treated. It can be sex and gender too. 

The fact of the matter is that all of the guidelines for diagnoses are typically based on men. Attention hyper deficit disorder, also known as ADHD, is often diagnosed in men early in life. For women, diagnosis happens later — if at all.

Misdiagnosis is incredibly likely in individuals who were assigned female at birth. Often they are told that it’s “all in their head” or they’re making up their symptoms.

According to the BBC, diagnostic errors cause 40,000 to 80,000 deaths in the United States alone. Women or those assigned female at birth often have to take more visits to health care professionals than men before they receive the care they need. 

Women and those assigned female at birth are constantly misbelieved when they say they are in pain. As an example, consider menstrual cramps. 

Menstrual cramps are a product of menstruation that happen roughly every month or so and are often quite painful. People who experience these are no strangers to being told they’re exaggerating or it’s not that bad.

Here’s the thing, it’s been defended by real doctors that menstrual cramps can be even more painful than heart attacks. Sometimes people have had their appendixes burst and they simply don’t realize it because they’re used to menstrual cramps being more painful, which can lead to a deadly result.

Racism and sexism alone can cause unbelievable pain and damage in the healthcare field, and this is without considering ableism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of bigotry that aid in the destruction of others’ lives.

There has to be more done to help end inherent bias against people who aren’t “the norm” in health care. There is no one normal type of body or person and people shouldn’t have to die to outline that fact.

Spierings can be reached at [email protected].