Racial bias can affect the way patients with pigmented skin are diagnosed and treated, especially in dermatological departments across California. The frequency of diagnostic errors among Black patients in particular can be startling. Of all major groups in the U.S., Black people have the lowest life expectancy. While other factors like poverty and stress are involved, misdiagnoses play a role in this.
Melanoma among the most misdiagnosed conditions
Black patients who are at a high risk for having melanoma, an aggressive skin cancer, go without a proper misdiagnosis. Immunologic diseases like lupus and rashes caused by adverse reactions to antibiotics and other drugs are often missed as well because clinicians have not been adequately trained to spot these conditions on pigmented skin.
To take another simple example, clinicians know that inflammation caused by increased blood flow will make a white patient’s skin red or pink, yet few have been taught that it will make pigmented skin brown or violet. Experts say that there is clearly a bias in current medical education.
Lack of appropriate information tools another issue
Bias is also present when clinicians use images of white patients to explain to a Black patient what his or her condition is. Since Black patients won’t see images of the condition as it appears in themselves, they may lose trust in their doctor.
Navigating malpractice law after a diagnostic error
Perhaps you were the victim of a medical misdiagnosis, a surgical error or some other form of medical negligence. Under medical malpractice law, you may be eligible for compensation. You may want a lawyer to take on your case. The lawyer may help file your claim before the statute of limitations runs out and then handle all settlement negotiations.