In theory, all medical patients should receive the same access to treatment and standard of care. In reality, healthcare providers are as likely as members of the general public to allow personal biases to influence their professional behavior.
Unfortunately, that means that people who belong to traditionally ill-treated groups may find that they do not receive the right care and consideration in medical facilities as they require. Medical professionals’ biases can result in a patient’s delayed diagnosis, denied pain management requests or lead to subtle mistreatment in health care settings that deter people from seeking treatment.
What personal characteristics may impact the treatment that you receive?
Your race may impact your treatment
With as much education as doctors receive, you would think that they would know better than to discriminate against people based on race or skin color. However, a shockingly large number of doctors believe complete lies about members of different racial groups, like the idea that African Americans have a naturally higher pain tolerance than white people. Doctors may also apply racial profiling to patients who ask for pain management or psychiatric care.
How your sex affects your health care
Medicine has a strong male bias. Most drug studies and basic medical knowledge stem from research involving primarily male participants.
Doctors tend to treat male bodies as the default for humans and may not bother to learn about how symptoms associated with different medical conditions are different for women. They may also ignore the symptoms that women self-report because of the long-standing and inaccurate social myth that females exaggerate them.
You may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim against the doctor or facility involved if you can prove that your race or sex played a role in your inadequate care or misdiagnosis.