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Medical Racism Essay

Free Essay about Racism and Discrimination in Healthcare

Over the last decades, there has been massive publishing in medical literature of various studies whose main aim has been to point out the differential treatment on the basis of race by the physicians in America. From these many studies, there has even been production of official reports by the medical institutes (Unequal Treatment) which have indeed resulted to factual confirmation that the spread of racism is widespread. These disparities form a tread which can be traced back in history. In addition, there has been detection of medical misconducts that have been racially constructed but there have however been no major steps that have been taken with an aim of providing prevention to this tread. There are various questions that are raised by the medical publications in relation to the differential treatment after the diagnosis, while in the bid to understand what constitute the racial approach in medicine; the focus has been ensuring that the practitioners in medicine are relieved of any responsibilities for their behaviors which are racially motivated.

The history of this racism is long, even resulting to the development of vocabulary that is euphemistic by the authors, aimed at ensuring that the reputation of the humane is preserved. It is this strategy which has been perceived to be evasive and reinforced by the ignorance of the physicians in the United States medical racism history. Basically this article is comprehensive and is partially guided to confirmation of the fact that indeed racism in the medical field is not yet from over and if such a tread will have to be taken, then there will have to be need for the learning by the physicians about the perspective of the doctors when it comes to the issue of medical racism. In this article, a comprehensive analysis is done with an aim of tracing the medical racism back in history. It looks at various perspectives of medical racism and various incidences which are inclusive of the medical apartheid, the Tuskegee experiment together with the biotechnological experimentation by humans.

Racism in medical practice

Factually, the history traces the medical practice as one of the highest statuses and ranks in American occupation. However, despite this ranking, there has been little effort if any in this profession when it comes to divesting itself from the racism subtle which has been seen to permeate through the the entire society’s structures. According to the medical examination in America, it is clear that prejudice and discrimination in this profession has not begun just the other day (Samuel et al. 601). To some extent, this examination provides enough evidence to the confirmation of what has been feared by many and especially the victims of this inhuman act; that the racism is there to stay. Since the reconstruction time, there has been existence of schools whose main aim has solely been specified to the training of the black doctors.

These schools have not been a mark of the past since the popularity has not diminished even since those early years of their establishment. The popularity has still been high portraying the effects of discrimination which have left these students with nowhere else to develop their careers. In addition, during and even after the reconstruction, there was an establishment of some medical schools with an aim of training the black physicians. In this period, there has been two medical schools for four years, whose foundation can be traced back to the year 1867 together with the Meharry college of medicine whose foundation is traced back to the year 1876 (Blackwell 22). During this period, heavy penalties were imposed to those that extended some signs of sympathy to the medical practice training to the blacks.

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The parallel organizations development among the groups that were perceived to be minority is seen to be a response to the policies of discrimination. This was enhanced by the 1895 establishment of the National Association of Medicine. The establishment of this association was mainly based on the fact that the there was no welcoming of the black physicians to the American Medical Association (AMA), especially the Columbia District and some of the states in the south (Shea 933).

Samuel et al (601) has carried out research to establish the cause and tread of racism in the medical field. This was substantiated by collection of data that was aimed at looking at the perception of the blacks towards the issue of racism, prejudice and discrimination. This study by Samuel et al. (601) established several reasons that were perceived to cause discrimination which were inclusive of the fact that the discrimination and prejudice experiences had become very highly mentioned topics for discussion among the blacks. The study was also based on the understanding that racial discrimination had received major covering as one of the major stresses that the medical schools experienced.

In addition, there was establishment that very few studies have been conducted in relation to the racism perception in the schools that were reserved as belonging to the whites. Seeking of the information was especially based on the understanding of the level of stress issues that resulted from the practices which were discriminative together with the approaches that were used to deal with such experiences. This and other studies have sourced racism as resulting from the attitudes which are perceived to be paranoid. There has also been a perception that medical racism is necessary and good test for reality. In addition, discrimination and racism is at some point a focal issue that is full of stress through which the problem of adapting to the medical environment of the white is compounded.

There is also another perception which holds that the level of racism has in the past period been on a diminishing level. This is based on the studies which have largely established an increase in the number of black students joining the medical institutions which have in the past been dominated by the whites. This has been a clear sign of an increasing appreciation for the blacks by the white community although this is a process which has been noted to be slow. Between the year 1955 and 1973 there was a noted increase in the number of black medical students in the medical institutes for the whites from 2.7 percent to a new level of 6 percent (Reitzes and Elkhanially 56).

The interviews that were conducted with the black students clearly highlighted that the increase in the number of blacks was accompanied by a reduction in the overall level of racism. This data brought a clear indication of a reduction in the level of discrimination to the blacks when in comparison to 20 years earlier. However, during a survey that was conducted between the year 1973 and 1974, there was a notable increase in the discrimination experience in the medical schools and against the black patients although this was not as high as the discrimination level that had been recorded some years earlier.

Basically, various studies that have been carried out in the past have brought out a perception to the discrimination that has been wide spread with this extensiveness being especially experienced by the blacks. In the medical institutions where there has been massive discrimination, it has in most cases been perceived that the attendance of schools by these victims has been coupled with being participants in the changes in the civil rights in the decades during which their education has been influenced. To the victims of racism, the experience of racism and discrimination has in the past been filled with shock and surprise.  These experiences of racism have been perceived to be stereotyped attitudes that have expressed various disparagement levels which have been targeted at the blacks coupled with the strong negative stereotyping of the patients that are black.

Based on the fact that abundant prejudice has been experienced not only in the area of medical school, it is surprising to find significant racism perceptions which have even resulted to adoption of behaviors that are perceived to be specific. Among these behaviors, there has been that which has been aimed at deliberately attempting to disprove the intellectual inferiority stereotype through ensuring that they work harder in the medical institutions. In addition, there is also another behavior which has been in these racially discriminated students which has been withdrawal into silence which has been obviously passive.

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The increase in the racism perception frequency is explained to have a likelihood of originating from various factors. There could have been a likelihood of increase in the sensitivity to the racism or even an increase in their entitlement sense of complaining. In addition, the discrimination and prejudice experiences are other factors that cannot be overlooked in the medical environment, targeted against the blacks. Through the support for one another, the importance is realized as a way through which the racist experiences are handled. To those that have been providing treatment and counseling to the blacks, there has been a realization that the discrimination and prejudice experiences have been there from the past up to the current time and will always be issues that are real. These are uses that have for a long period of time deserved exploration when it comes to counseling of the blacks on the issues pertaining medical racism.

Medical apartheid: The Tuskegee experiment

Most of the psychiatric Services readers have a hint of the events of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment which is believed to have taken medical apartheid to another level. This experiment involved studying 399 African-American men that had syphilis with an aim of observing the main cause and reason that they had been infected. There was not only the withholding of the treatment from the participants of the study but the study was also accompanied by active suppression by the team that was carrying out the experiment. The onset to the study was in the year 1929 continuing all the way to the 1970s; a period which the whistle was blown by Peter Buxton, whose specialization involved the study of the venereal diseases. This followed the failure of his effort which was aimed at pressuring the Public Health Services to put an end to the experiment.

The origin of the Tuskegee experiment is noted by Susan (20) to be in the year 1929 when the studies were conducted through the grant from the Rosenward Fund with an aim of determining the syphilis prevalence among the blacks coupled with exploration of the possibilities through which there would be mass treatment. This study found out that the Tuskegee town in Alabama had the highest rates of syphilis in the survey that was carried out in six counties. Based on this study, it was concluded that through mass treatment, there could be some healing success in the blacks who lived in the rural areas. This was followed by withdrawal of the funding in the same year following the economic down turn although it had been highly noted that there should have been more allocation of funds even in the economic conditions which were best. This resulted in the study of Tuskegee being based on the findings of Rosenward, which recommended for mass treatment possibility even through the study had not been completed.

After three years in 1932, it was noted that Macon county condition which was one of the areas that were subjected to the study required new attention. This followed the suspicion by Talioferro Clark, the author of the study by Rosenwald that there was a high syphilis prevalence through which a new opportunity was offered for observation. The study of Tuskegee was perceived to be a classic nature study, and not an experiment. As long as there was prevalence of syphilis in Macon coupled with most of the blacks not being treated in their whole life, observing the consequences seemed so valuable resulting to this study being referred to as a situation that was “ready made”. From the various reports that were made after the Tuskegee study, there was also a possibility of the experiment demonstrating that it was not necessary to have the treatment for anti-syphilis. What was expected was that through the results of this treatment, a bearing may have been marked on the treatment whereby there were latent syphilis cases (Michael 12).

Based on the final report focus, which looked at the informed consent also acted as way through which the experiment historical facts were obscured. Based on the exploitation and deception which was perpetrated by the experiment, declaration of what was done by the experiment can be an understatement, based on the fact that there was no ethical justification of the experiment. This was based on the fact that it did not obtain from the subjects their informed consent, which resulted to the panel believing that there was a voluntary decision by men to the experiment. According to the national archives records, it is clear that there was no submission by the men to the experiment through their own voluntary wish, but instead, they were led into believing that they were receiving treatment for free from the expert doctors in the government for disease outbreak that was serious. From the critical fact that were later released, it is clear that the subjects (men) were lied which result into questioning of the credibility and thoroughness of the investigation.

The Tuskegee experiment is a shocking incident and as if that is not enough, this abuse is documented by Harriet (62) as just one of the many abuses in the medical field that were committed throughout the United States against the Americans that were discriminated on the basis of being blacks. According to the description of Harriet (62), there were multilayered racism pattern coupled with medical practices which were not ethical and which were not known by most of the United States people especially those who had not been victims to the racial oppression. This was followed with consequences that were devastating in relation to the well-being of the citizens in the United States that were African-American. As a result of this practice, there was health gap between the whites and the blacks which did not end there. In addition, the trust which had for a long period of time been respected and enjoyed between the blacks and whites has been eroded (Hoberman 506) and up to currently, things have not been the same.

This is a presentation of a case that is very compelling and thorough in the medical mistreatment history, together with researches that were harmful and misguided, ethical lapses, lethal experimentations, eugenic outrages, discrimination together with   neglect of the medical needs which have for a long period of time been perceived as essential. This medical apartheid history is traced to the beginning, which provides an important understanding of the medical apartheid evolution.  The slaveholders are traced with the doctors, to the economic interest upholding while the patients being put at the risk coupled with being submitted to experiments that were risky and painful such as the vaccinations which were not tested, subjection to the burns (intentionally), coupled with being exposed to the heat levels that were lethal (Harriet 62).

The slave captives that were African were displayed in the museums and zoos. There was also black mother’s sterilization, being injected with the substances that were radioactive in the name of researches that they had very little knowledge about. This was also characterized with the parents being seduced and tricked in order for them to allow their children to participate in the experiments which were very risky together with their participation in elusive surgery. This was also followed by the mosquitos bearing malaria, dengue and yellow fever being released to Africa in what was perceived to be part of the experiment aimed at testing the efficacy of the disease in what was referred as biological warfare. The death did not stop this experiment based on the fact that these dead bodies were stolen from the cemeteries and later used in the white medical schools for further research.

These medical malpractices were connected to nothing less than the major issue which was racism which is in this case perceived to be a constant fiber in the American republic thread. With the citation of the quotes of the offenders that were perceived to be worst and having them connected to the predominant beliefs and ideologies, there is a clear indication of how these practices which were perceived to be abhorrent made sense to the people that had begun them. There is in addition the culpability confluence between the medical establishments, the governments together with the media in the mainstream, through which legitimizing discourse was created preserving the method that was scientific and resulting to the blame being shifted to the intractable victims who resisted the treatment based on their superstation and suspicion. All this is what resulted to a major medical mistrust which spread to the various communities, resulting to further exacerbation of gap related to the health between the races.

Biotechnological experiments

The science history has been marred by racist ideas with an inclusion of medical experiments and eugenics movements on the population whose vulnerability has taken a new shape. This has resulted to the need for social oversight and public awareness with an aim of ensuring that there is no repetition of these occurrences. The modern biomedical researchers and geneticists are searching for the differences in the group genetics among various races, resulting to an increase in the concern that through the biological variations, the in-equitability of incomes may be created; outcomes whose creation is traced back to the forces in the economy, environment and social setting. This has a likelihood of resulting in abuse socially.

The particular interest of these genetic researchers has been on the people that are perceived to be indigenous. As a result of their reproductive insularity, there has been an increase in the homogeneity genetically through which there can be facilitation to correlation between the particular genes and the traits that are phenotypic. This work has been objected against by many people based on various ethical and practical reasons which includes the commercializing and patenting of the information that is genetic, lack of consent that is full informed, the likelihood of discrimination on the basis of genetics coupled with the inappropriate fund allocation to the research on the genetics than to the programs that are concerned with caring for the health and prevention.

This article has used various approaches to trace the history of racism from the past to the current period. From what has been analyzed in this article, it is clear that even in the modern society, there is still racism in the public health, medical and other setting in the medical profession. Its operation in the modern world creates even a higher risk in the medical field, less accessibility to the services, coupled with the lowering the quality of medical care that is received by various people from various races. This is a problem which has been perceived to have roots that are social, political, historical, physiological and ideological and through which all the systems of service delivery and professions are influenced. Though the medical apartheid, there is the impact which results to shining a clarity light together with creating an understanding into the recesses through which our ability to understand our past has been obscured as well as building  a future that is just not only affected medically but also socially. With the new treads of biotechnological experiments on the humans, there less to be done rather than wait and see the new route that racism in medical care is going to take.