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News accounts of the state of healthcare delivery seem to be full of bad news,
including concerns about rising healthcare costs, patient safety and medical
errors, and the growing numbers of uninsured Americans. To add to these
problems, many recent news reports indicate that racial and ethnic minorities receive
lower quality healthcare than whites, even when they are insured to the same degree
and when other healthcare access-related factors, such as the ability to pay for care,
are the same.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial
and Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare, added to the media fray when the IOM concluded
that “(al)though myriad sources contribute to these disparities, some evidence
suggests that bias, prejudice, and stereotyping on the part of healthcare providers may
contribute to differences in care.”
This finding was alarming to many healthcare professionals, the vast majority of
whom work hard under very challenging conditions to ensure that patients receive the
best possible healthcare to meet their needs. How could bias, prejudice, and stereotyping
contribute to unequal treatment, particularly given that healthcare providers
are sworn to beneficence and cannot, by law, discriminate against any patient on the
basis of race, ethnicity, color, or national origin? This brief summary of the IOM Unequal
Treatment report addresses this question, and summarizes other relevant findings
to help healthcare professionals meet the objective of providing high-quality
care for all patients.
News accounts of the state of healthcare delivery seem to be full of bad news,
including concerns about rising healthcare costs, patient safety and medical
errors, and the growing numbers of uninsured Americans. To add to these
problems, many recent news reports indicate that racial and ethnic minorities receive
lower quality healthcare than whites, even when they are insured to the same degree
and when other healthcare access-related factors, such as the ability to pay for care,
are the same.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial
and Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare, added to the media fray when the IOM concluded
that “(al)though myriad sources contribute to these disparities, some evidence
suggests that bias, prejudice, and stereotyping on the part of healthcare providers may
contribute to differences in care.”
This finding was alarming to many healthcare professionals, the vast majority of
whom work hard under very challenging conditions to ensure that patients receive the
best possible healthcare to meet their needs. How could bias, prejudice, and stereotyping
contribute to unequal treatment, particularly given that healthcare providers
are sworn to beneficence and cannot, by law, discriminate against any patient on the
basis of race, ethnicity, color, or national origin? This brief summary of the IOM Unequal
Treatment report addresses this question, and summarizes other relevant findings
to help healthcare professionals meet the objective of providing high-quality
care for all patients.
News accounts of the state of healthcare delivery seem to be full of bad news,
including concerns about rising healthcare costs, patient safety and medical
errors, and the growing numbers of uninsured Americans. To add to these
problems, many recent news reports indicate that racial and ethnic minorities receive
lower quality healthcare than whites, even when they are insured to the same degree
and when other healthcare access-related factors, such as the ability to pay for care,
are the same.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial
and Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare, added to the media fray when the IOM concluded
that “(al)though myriad sources contribute to these disparities, some evidence
suggests that bias, prejudice, and stereotyping on the part of healthcare providers may
contribute to differences in care.”

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