As of late, the world has started to grapple with the fact that racism and inequities are entrenched in every system and structure that exists. Healthcare is no exception. There are innumerable studies that highlight the ways that bias permeates the healthcare field. Harriet Washington’s groundbreaking book Medical Apartheid looked at this in more detail, examining the ways that Black bodies have been medically harmed throughout the history of the United States. Not only are there racial disparities in perceptions of pain tolerance, but the Black maternal mortality rates are staggering. There is also evidence of educators being penalized for teaching students about racial disparities in medicine. In a recent example of potential medical malpractice, a nurse named Kelly Morris went viral on TikTok for a series of videos where she joked about “giving her patients too many pills, lying about vital signs, or acting as though she doesn’t care when a patient dies.” For Black, brown and other marginalized communities, pervasive racial biases could be fatal. Dr. Angela Anderson is a leadership expert, best-selling author, speaker and trainer who recently shared in an Instagram post a jaw-dropping account of the medical neglect she experienced during a health scare. In an email, Dr. Anderson shared her recent experiences, why it was so important to share her story, and ways that healthcare can improve the experiences of patients from racially marginalized backgrounds.
Janice Gassam Asare: I saw a heartbreaking post on your Instagram page about your recent experience with a healthcare provider. Can you share a bit more about what happened for the Forbes readers?
Angela Anderson: I wish my story was uncommon, but unfortunately it is not. One night I was preparing for bed after a long work day and noticed an immediate and very localized pain in the right side of my chest and back…it was so uncomfortable that I was unable to sit or lie down because of the pain. I made it through the night and the next morning went to the nearest urgent care facility. I was asked to wait in my car because I reported chest pain and shortness of breath…after waiting an hour without being seen by a provider, I was told to go to another urgent care location because there was no one who could read a chest x-ray if I needed one. I never saw a provider and no vitals were taken. At the second facility, I was greeted with frustration and hostility because the staff didn’t appreciate the first facility sending me to them. They expressed their displeasure at my arrival. Again, presenting with chest pain and shortness of breath, I was asked to wait in my car until a rapid Covid test could be given. Read More