Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Non-impartial doctors

Do I expect my doctors to be my best friends? No. But I do expect them to impartial and have no biases when treating me. I try to do my part - show up for appointments, take my medicines are directed, and take fairly good care of myself. I have had a few doctors which I have felt I didn't really gibe with but in my mind, I really want good care, not buddy-buddy.

A new study (because we always need new studies) shows that more than 40% of doctors state they have biases to certain groups. Some of those include obese patients, patients who do not speak English, or have emotional problems.

"The most common reason that doctors said they stereotyped patients was because of their emotional problems, which elicited biases among 62% of physicians, followed by their weight, which 56% of male and 48% of female physicians said provoked biases for them. Other triggers were patients' intelligence, language differences, insurance coverage, age, income level, race and attractiveness."

Hmmmm..... Well doctors are human beings and I think every person would admit there are just some people that make them recoil a tiny bit. I admit I am not perfect and have my own cringe factor for some people - like the scary homeless guy on the subway yelling obscenities. (I realize that their problems are probably worsened by lack of medical/psychiatric treatment and they should not be blamed for their issues but I just don't want to sit next to them.)

The problem is that when doctors have biases, whether conscious or subconscious, the patient usually gets a lower standard of care. That's a real problem. Its not ethical for doctors to provide for different standards of care for different groups but if its a subconscious bias, how do they stop themselves.

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