Doctors take an oath to treat all patients equally, however, all patients are not treated such way. The explanation for this is complicated. Imagine going to the doctor, and you continuously feel unseen, unheard and misunderstood with a fear of being misdiagnosed. The doctor assumes the full range of treatments doesn’t apply to you or that you won’t understand all the information.
Not every black woman has experienced this kind of discrimination, but they’re unfortunately all too familiar to some of us. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes than white women. Also, black babies are twice as likely to die as white babies. In the US, black women can expect to have worse health outcomes than white women. Also, black women are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer, but less likely to have breast cancer in the first place.
Beyond the Exam Room
Black women are less likely to receive a prescription for painkillers from an ER physician, even though they experience same level of pain and symptoms as a white patient. Black women have a worse health period and are more likely to live with diabetes. Obesity, high blood pressure and significant depression are also common. Double the risk for strokes and as well as black men, develop Alzheimer’s.
Income, genetics, and education play a role in these differences and black women are less likely than white women to have health insurance. Then consider that the mortality rate for babies born to black women with a doctorate or professional degree is higher than the rate for babies born to white women who never finished high school. Black neighborhoods are 67% more likely to lack a local primary care physician.
After an illness or medical condition lands us in a doctor’s office or a hospital our focus, should be healing. We are not fighting the systemic mistreatment that threatens our very lives.
It’s exhausting and scary considering our health is at stake.