Racial bias influences health care — and it starts in the exam room

The Chicago Tribune

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“No doctor has ever reminded me that I am black before,” the patient said, laughing and nodding his head to let me know he appreciated my advice.

Just as he was startled by my open recognition of his race, so too was I startled by his reaction.

As his physician, I felt the issue I’d raised wasn’t worth ignoring; if anything, I viewed it as the “elephant in the exam room,” desperately begging to be called out: Black patients continue to suffer higher morbidity and mortality from colon cancer, compared to any other racial group, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology, and that is a fact that warrants discussion in the doctor’s office.