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Medical Malpractice and Minorities

There is a wealth of scholarly research that demonstrates that minorities in the United States suffer disproportionately from untreated or poorly treated health problems. Here are just some examples:

  • A Harvard Medical Practice Study found that there were significant differences between hospitals that serve a predominantly minority population and other hospitals. Specifically, the study found that blacks were more likely to be hospitalized at institutions with more adverse events and higher rates of negligence.
  • According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences National Institute of Medicine (NAM), “a consistent body of research demonstrates … that U.S. racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to receive even routine medical procedures and experience a lower quality of health services.”
  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that people of color received poorer quality of care in many core measures. 
  • Minorities are uninsured more often than non-Hispanic whites, a status that frequently results in less than adequate care.
  • Uninsured persons who suffer traumatic injuries are less likely than those with insurance to be admitted to the hospital, receive fewer services if they are admitted, and are more likely to die.

There is also a body of research showing that a substantial number of doctors, medical students and residents hold false beliefs about biological differences that impact racial bias in treatment. 

In some cases, lower-quality medical care results in medical malpractice. So, what is the best way to be a steward of your own healthcare and avoid becoming a victim of medical malpractice?

How to Be a Steward of Your Own Healthcare 

What can you do if you feel you are not getting the medical treatment you deserve? There are several steps that you can take to be a better steward of your own healthcare.

First, when going to a medical appointment you have scheduled due to a serious medical issue, bring a friend or family member with you. This person can take notes and be your second set of eyes and ears. It can be hard to remember and understand what the doctor or other medical professional is telling you, particularly if you are hearing some difficult information about your health.

Second, educate yourself before your appointment. The internet has a wealth of medical information. A good place to start is the National Institutes of Health websiteThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. While you should rely on the training and expertise of your healthcare providers, you play a critical role in your own healthcare and need to put the time and effort into educating yourself and understanding what’s going on with your body.

Third, speak up and ask questions. Some people make a list before their visit of their questions, symptoms and other issues they want to discuss with their healthcare provider. If you don’t understand what the doctor is telling you, seek clarification. Ask your doctor to use words that you understand. Never leave a doctor’s appointment without understanding the status of your condition and your health. Make sure you understand what follow up steps are needed before you leave the office.

Fourth, trust your instincts. If something does not feel normal and persists, do not delay in getting a medical evaluation. Too often people don’t find the time and let their busy schedules dominate their health. Delays can lead to permanent injury or even death. Ignoring a medical problem will not make it go away. 

What Is Medical Malpractice

Despite all your efforts to be a steward of your own healthcare, there still is a chance that you could become a victim of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice can be the result of any one of the following:

  • Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis.
  • Missed laboratory results.
  • Surgical errors.
  • Unnecessary surgical procedures.
  • Wrong medications.
  • Insufficient aftercare.
  • Failure to take an accurate patient history.

Proving medical malpractice in Florida requires proof that there was a breach of the standard of care, a direct causal link to patient harm and that compensable damages were incurred. Expert testimony and substantial evidence are essential in establishing a successful medical malpractice claim. An Orlando medical malpractice lawyer at Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm can help you evaluate the strength of your case. 

Contact An Orlando Medical Malpractice Attorney

Bringing a medical malpractice claim to a successful conclusion can be challenging. But having the right legal team beside you, that is well-versed in all aspects of hospital and physician malpractice, can make all the difference. Eugene K. Pettis, the first African American President of the Florida Bar and Co-Founder of HPS, has made it his mission to educate the public on the issue of healthcare disparity in our communities. He and other attorneys at Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm have frequently uncovered situations where our client’s concerns were valid. We have found that, in many cases, because of their social, economic, or racial status, our clients have become victims of medical malpractice. 

If you believe you or your loved one has been harmed by a medical mistake where healthcare disparity issues have played a part, contact Eugene K. Pettis, or any of our other HPS attorneys, for a free and confidential legal consultation at 1-800-693-4465 or fill out our CONTACT FORM.