Dr. Amanda Joy Calhoun, a Yale physician, is calling for the use of body cameras to combat racism within the medical field.
It comes as no surprise that Black people have been the victims of medical malpractice simply due to the color of their skin.
As a matter of fact, celebrities such as Serena Willams have been vocal about their mistreatment at hospitals that are equipped to provide the highest quality of care for patients.
Racism In The Medical Field
More recently, the family of the late UK-based rapper MF Doom has filed an investigation against St. James Hospital in Leeds, England, after it was discovered that there had been an alleged two-hour delay in medical attention for the swelling of his throat, according to a report by Billboard.
Beyond just the rich and famous, as previously reported by AfroTech, studies show that Black women in general are 2.5 times more likely to die during childbirth than their white counterparts regardless of socioeconomic status.
What’s more, it has also been reported that Black patients are more likely to live longer when they have access to Black primary doctors, an option that isn’t always readily available, specifically during emergencies.
Dr. Calhoun recently wrote an open letter in the Boston Globe calling for radical change within the medical field and used her own experiences to push for it.
“As a physician, I have witnessed countless racist behaviors toward Black patients, often coupled with conscious and cruel statements,” Calhoun said. “I have heard White nurses joke that young Black children will probably join gangs and doctors describe the natural hair of Black people as ‘wild’ and ‘unkempt.’ I have seen Black patients unnecessarily physically restrained. I have stood in the emergency department as a Black teenager died from a gunshot wound while White staff chuckled, saying he was ‘just another criminal.’”
Not only has she witnessed this kind of behavior from within the walls of the medical facilities she has practiced at, but Calhoun has also experienced mistreatment or lack of treatment on a personal level as well.
Close To Home
After realizing that her sister was having trouble breathing due to the consumption of a Brazil nut, Calhoun’s mother took her sister to a nearby emergency department where she found that staff reportedly showed a lack of concern for the situation at hand.
“Despite my mom’s insistence that my 9-year-old sister could be suffering from a deadly allergic reaction and seemed to be wheezing, White nurses refused to treat her with urgency, leaving them sitting in the waiting room,” Calhoun recalled. “Without even properly examining my sister, the nurses informed my mother she would have detected a nut allergy earlier in my sister’s life if it was serious.”
Moments later, a doctor determined that Calhoun’s sister was experiencing a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis, “a severe whole-body allergic reaction to a chemical that has become an allergen.”
The Suggested Solution
Now, she poses the question of what would happen if medical personnel were required to wear body cameras to hold them accountable for their actions?
“Since most health care professionals claim their intentions are honorable, the body camera footage would only theoretically reinforce that truth,” Calhoun said. “There would be no statements criminalizing Black patients or laughing about their pain.”
She continued: “Have healthcare professionals wear body cameras. As a patient, I would feel far more comfortable if they did. And as a doctor, I will volunteer to wear one first.”
The million-dollar question now is, will facilities get behind Dr. Calhoun’s call to action?