Swamped with your writing assignments? Take the weight off your shoulder!
Write a 1500-word essay on any ethical issue in healthcare raised in our text or in the course readings. You may not use a case you have already discussed in one of your case studies, main discussion posts, or your presentation, but you can address a general topic you have already written about. Your goal in the paper is to defend your own position on the issue, making clear arguments in its favor and responding to what you think are the best objections that a critic of your view might make. You may do additional research on your topic, but you paper should cite our text (or other course readings) more than once.
Racial Bias in the Emergency Room
(Harvard Health Blog)—A patient of mine recently shared a story with me about her visit to an area emergency room a few years ago. She had a painful medical condition. The emergency room staff not only did not treat her pain, but she recounted: “They treated me like I was trying to play them, like I was just trying to get pain meds out of them. They didn’t try to make any diagnosis or help me at all. They couldn’t get rid of me fast enough.”
There was nothing in her history to suggest that she was pain medication seeking. She is a middle-aged, churchgoing lady who has never had issues with substance abuse. Eventually, she received a diagnosis and appropriate care somewhere else. She is convinced that she was treated poorly by that emergency room because she is black.*
Assuming this story is true, and given the well-documented existence of racial bias in health care, how likely is it that the woman was treated poorly because she is Black? Would it be reasonable to dismiss her story out of hand, as some people might be tempted to do? If you were in charge of the personnel and policies of this emergency room, what changes, if any, would you make to ensure that such incidents do not happen in the future?
* Monique Tello, “Racism and Discrimination in Health Care: Providers and Patients,” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Medical School, January 16, 2017.