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Healthcare Injustices Are Ruining The Quality Of Wellness Amongst Black People. Here Are 5 Health Rights You Should Know [List]

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Outside of the prison system, the healthcare industry is perhaps the most damning piece of evidence for refuting the idea that we live in a post racial society.

In many ways, the healthcare system still bears the scars, blemishes, and imperfections left behind by America’s violently racist history.

Not only has the healthcare industry been largely criticized for systematically funneling people through a never ending ‘one prescription to another’ organized scheme, that results in treatments and seldom a cure, but black and brown people have historically been incredibly susceptible to healthcare related injustices.

According to a 2016 study by the University of Virginia, white medical students, as well as some practicing physicians, are likely to believe a slew of absurd fallacies about black people.

An astonishing 20 percent of study participants, which included both medical students and practicing physicians alike, believed that blacks have less sensitive nerve endings than whites, and thus feel less pain.

 Over half, 58 percent, of the participants, believed that black people have thicker skin than White people.

What makes these statistics even more alarming is the fact that these false beliefs have actually been shown to translate to black people receiving sub par and inadequate care from the doctors who believe them.

For example, a 2000 Atlanta study demonstrated that 74 percent of whites with bone fractures received painkillers, compared to only 50 percent of black patients with the same injuries.

This unfortunate and racist epidemic knows no boundaries when it comes to age: even black children are less likely to receive adequate pain medication, according to a 2015 study that looked at apendicitis pain and treatment across color lines.

Reproductive health may be where black women are hardest hit in terms of the inadequacy of the healthcare system.

Black women are more likely to die during childbirth than any other race of women. 

In fact, the CDC reported in 2018 that Black women are 12 times more likely to die during childbirth than white women.

Many Black women may be robbed of their ability to have children at the start, as hysterectomies remain a grossly overprescribed treatment for fibroids.

This disproportionately impacts black women because they are more likely to suffer from fibroid disease.

Because navigating the healthcare system can be not only challenging, but also a life or death situation for women of color specifically, it is important that Black women know their rights in a healthcare setting.

Some of the rights that can help you protect yourself the next time you find yourself in a hospital or doctor’s office, include:

The right to access your medical records and the right to keep them private:

This is fairly self explanatory. Your right to request a copy of your medical records and keep them private is guaranteed by federal law.

The right to informed consent

Your healthcare provider is required to give you the information you need to help you make an informed decision about a particular treatment option.

This is an important right that can help prevent unnecessary treatments and operations such as the hysterectomy. Your healthcare provider is required to give you the information you need to help you make an informed decision about a particular treatment option.

The right to respect

You may not be discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

The right to choose

While most healthcare plans offer a range of doctors and specialists that allow you to select a provider of your choice, you can seek more options outside of your plan for an additional cost.

You have the right to choose the best fit provider for you. 

The right to complain

Although this may sound strange, you have the right to seek resolution to healthcare related problems you may face, whether that includes long wait times, mistreatment, or being denied service.

Hospitals and other institutions must have easy to access internal structures to handle these problems quickly.

In addition to the rights listed above, informing yourself about your own, or a loved one’s illness through trusted sources may be beneficial. 

Finally, this is one more reason to not only encourage our youth to pursue careers in medical and STEM fields, but also equip them with their sources necessary to do so.

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