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Issue 17 Out Now

Are Black Women Safe in Doctor's Care?

The black community faces many hardships across the board from healthcare to workplace treatment. While many black men face death at the hands of law enforcement, many black women face death at the hands of doctors. Between 2011–2014, black women had 40 deaths per 100,000 from pregnancy-related mortality compared to white women having 12.4 deaths per 100,000.

In 2017, Shalon Irving, unfortunately, passed away from pregnancy-related complications, becoming a statistic that many chose to ignore. After having her daughter through C-section, doctors ordered Irving home after two days. She began to experience swelling legs, hematoma, hypertension, headaches, blurred vision, and weight gain. Clinicians assured her that these symptoms were normal, but hours after her last appointment, Irving collapsed and died.

“Viewed up close, the deaths of mothers like Irving are devastating, private tragedies. But pull back, and a picture emerges of a public health crisis that’s been hiding in plain sight for the last 30 years.”  — Amy Roeder

Black women are more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than any other race of women. This asks a very important question. What is the cause of this issue? The answer is just like any answer when it comes to problems like these in the black community. Systemic racism and discrimination.

Black people in general are treated worse when it comes to healthcare. Some doctors have racial biases against black patients, believing that black people feel less pain compared to white people and have thicker skin. Many of these ignorant views come from the past. Back in the day, black people were exposed to horrific treatment, such as being operated on without anesthesia. To feel better about what they were doing, white people came up with these lies. Sadly, these views are still seen today. In a 2016 study, half of medical students and residents studied believed some of these myths.

“To this day, black people are less likely to get the same treatment in terms of pain medication. They’re more likely to wait longer in the emergency room. They’re less likely to be taken seriously. It’s a holdover from the days of slavery. And in my field, this plays a huge role in the black maternal and morbidity crisis.” Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, OB/GYN

So how can we end this horrible cycle? It can start with doctors removing their biases towards the black community, specifically black women. They need to understand that patient treatment should be the same across any race. They also need to listen to their patient’s problems and not write them off. Black women should also try and seek black care if possible and be sure to speak up when it feels that they’re not getting proper care. This has been ongoing for years and it’s time for black women to receive the treatment they deserve.

Black women's health matters.



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