Research has proven that many different aspects of healthcare are influenced by race, ethnicity, and the culture of patients in the United States. These inequalities in healthcare include such areas as diagnostic procedures, treatments, preventive care, and follow-up after serious illnesses that required hospitalization. It’s unfortunate that this happens in the United States, but there are a variety of factors that contribute to it. Healthcare providers and minorities need to be made aware of these inequalities and educated in regards to what they can do to correct this unfairness in the medical world.
A study done by the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality revealed that there is a definite paucity of healthcare amongst minority groups. Thirty percent of Hispanics and twenty percent of African Americans don’t have a primary care physician that they visit for routine healthcare as compared to only sixteen percent of whites. This extends to children as well with Hispanic children being three times more prone to have no primary care physician. As a result, sixteen percent of African Americans and thirteen percent of Hispanics receive their healthcare at hospitals or clinics.
Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare, 2000) In Boston, the quality of care was evaluated. This was accomplished by means of physician review and the adherence to the criterion of care. It determined that the quality of care among the low income patients was no different, but for African Americans the quality of care was less. It also found that African Americans received a lesser caliber of care in non-teaching hospitals than in teaching hospitals. (Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare, 2000) The inequalities in healthcare are evident in various situations.
In cardiac care, African Americans aren’t referred for catheterization or bypass graphing as often whites are. African Americans and Latinos are not as likely to be prescribed pain medications for such things as bone fractures and cancer. African Americans suffering from lung cancer aren’t candidates for surgery as often as whites are and those with renal disease are less likely to receive transplants. (Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, 2006) After receiving healthcare, many minorities are left feeling dissatisfied with their quality of healthcare.
African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans believe they received a lesser quality of care because of their ethnicity. They also felt that they were disrespected and cited such reasons as their inability to pay or because they didn’t speak English. The disrespect they were shown was in the form of rudeness and patronization. (Karen Scott Collins, 2002) Although problems within the healthcare system contribute to the outcome of care, the patients are also somewhat responsible due to their failure to follow their doctor’s instructions.
Some of the reasons given were that they just disagreed with their physician, it was too costly, lack of confidence in their physician, and their lack of understanding the instructions they were given. (Karen Scott Collins, 2002) Progress has been made in eliminating these inequalites in healthcare, but there is still much work to be done. Some suggestions offered by William H. Frist, M. D. who served in the senate from 1995-2007 included more efficient methods of collecting data, utilizing health care technology, to educate healthcare providers in cultural differences and to enlist patients in taking more responsibility in their healthcare.
All the available information certainly justifies the need for special healthcare programs aimed at eliminating the inequalities experienced by minorities. A combination of programs that train healthcare providers in the areas of race, ethnicity, and cultural differences and programs directed towards minorities for the purpose of educating them in taking an active part in their own health care, are necessary steps in correcting these issues of disparity in the healthcare system.