Friday, October 10, 2014

was there racism of the treatment of the ebola patient in Dallas?

Did racism play a role in the treatment of the guy with ebola who died in Dallas?

The family thinks it did. They are siting the fact that there have been four people with ebola in this country,  two survived, one is doing okay and happen to be white.  The black guy died. Is it coincidence?

The guy was let go from the ER the first time he went in with a fever of 103, abdominal pain, DIZZINESS, DECREASED URINATION.  Those last two indicated dehydration, no doubt due to the fever.  They did tests, apparently they were negative, so they sent him home with an antibiotic.  Why the antibiotic?  Was it because of the fever?  The doctor figured it was some kind of intestinal infection?

I'm surprised they let someone with this high of a fever, dehydration and unknown cause of abdominal pain go home.  I'm surprised they didn't at least admit him overnight.

According to records obtained by journalists, the doctor said he had "no fever or chills", which is weird because he had a fever.  Was that just a mistake in charting?  Apparently the nurse charted in triage that the guy had been to Africa.  I would be willing to bet that the doctor never read the triage note, as doctors are want to do. Most of them don't where I work.  Why? I don't know. In this case, because the doctor was not thinking in terms of ebola, reading it may have made the difference.

During his stay, it took a week for the man to get the experimental drug for ebola.  According to what I have read, for a private hospital to obtain something like this requires approvals, thats what delayed it.  Seems like a flimsy excuse.  But whatever.

Here's where I am gong to go all controversial on you.  Was this man treated as seriously as a white person with these symptoms and travel treated?  Get ready.  Probably not.

I hate to break this to you: Minorities are not treated the same as white people in the emergency department. They are not taken as seriously. They are dismissed.  A lot of assumptions are made about them based on stereotypes.  There is not as much sympathy for them. They aren't given those pain scripts like the white people are. In other words, the world of the emergency room is no different than the world outside of it.

Immigrants in the emergency department are a difficult group to deal with.  Many times they don't speak english.  They are from different culture, their way of coping with stress may be way different than we are used to. They may be more expressive.  It takes a lot more time to deal with them and in a busy emergency department that can be a burden.

I am not saying that all staff members in the emergency department are racists. Of course not.  They are probably some of the most tolerant and accepting and kind people you will ever meet.  The thing is most of them are white, they live in this country.  We are subject to the same experience as everyone else. We bring our prejudices and stereotypes with us to work just like everyone else.

A lot of you are probably thinking: how dare you?!! Saying I'm prejudiced. No.  I'm saying that racism is so woven into the very fabric of our society that often times we don't even realize something might be perceived as racist.

So was Mr. Duncan treated the same?  I would say no.   Its just my opinion.  You have a right to disagree with me.


Anonymous said...

Of course he didn't get the same level of care the others received. The situations were totally different.

The differences between Duncan and the others treated for ebola in the US aren't just that he was black vs. they are white.

Duncan was not a US citizen.

Duncan was not in Africa due to work (volunteer relief work for some, working for NBC for the cameraman). He lived there.

Duncan did not have a large organization behind him to fly him to the US in an isolation airplane directly to a hospital that was a)expecting him and b)already set up to care for him.

His +ebola status was not already known when he entered the hospital.

Rat said...

" I'm saying that racism is so woven into the very fabric of our society that often times we don't even realize something might be perceived as racist."

I really like the way you phrased it here.

Cal M said...

I agree. And you've said it better than I ever have. Thank you.