America’s Entertainment Community Fights Back Against Medical Bias
It’s been almost 2 months since the launch of #WeNeedAButton, an awareness campaign created by DatingPositives.com. The campaign has been advocating that people share their healthcare stories, and is asking patient-matching sites to create a way to vet healthcare providers in terms of their “LGTBQ-friendliness.” Medical bias affects the lives of millions of Americans each year, and not only LGBTQ Americans.
Medical bias isn’t imaginary. It has been proven by data and research, and also by anecdote after anecdote. The latest episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver explores the way racial and gender biases create worse health outcomes for women and people of color. The way these multi-layered biases compound one another (intersectionality), black women are the most vulnerable group studied when it comes to maternal mortality.
In typical John Oliver style, the audience experiences a roller coaster ride through content that ranges from absurdly apocalyptic to devastating. Through a 50s-era film excerpts in which a young girl calls her period “the curse,” and via interviews with experts and those who have survived healthcare, Oliver demonstrates how women’s pain is often downplayed, and women are more likely to have heart attacks go untreated, along with other disparities. The main problem is that women were not included as subjects for medical research for the majority of research that’s been done. Men were considered the “base human” starting point, and women the result of “pesky hormones.” (Funny, since men too have hormones, and also since according to what we know in science, all human embryos start life as “females.”)
The show similarly looks at racial disparities within healthcare. Healthcare and science was developing as an industry at a time in America where segregation and open racial discrimination was acceptable. Scientifically untrue stereotypes based on race are believed by an astounding amount of doctors and nurses – certified health professionals – even today. When applied in medicine, these stereotypes can be the difference between life and death. Due to the lack of diversity in medical schools and in hospitals, lack of proper bias trainings, racial medical bias has gone unchecked for far too long, to point that it causes an astonishing and devastating 83,000 needless, preventable deaths in the black community each year.
Wanda Sykes was the special guest of the episode, and she went over her 3 techniques for fighting medical bias:
- More bias trainings for medical professionals.
- Diverse staff in hospitals.
- Patients advocating for themselves.
Hannah Gadsby, comedian and western art history expert (Nanette on Netflix), has a part of her new show. Douglas, dedicated to addressing the discrimination, misogyny, and unhealthy (pun-intended) power dynamics in the health industrial complex in the US and in greater western history.
Is this a sign that we are finally ready to talk about and change healthcare in a meaningful way?
One would hope.
To read stories about what goes on behind closed doors and how you can get involved, visit www.waxoh.com/weneedabutton