Factors Influencing Medical Malpractice Risks
old male doctor - who is more likely to experience medical malpractice

Are Certain People More Likely to Experience Medical Malpractice?

Rachel Olszewski
Rachel Olszewski

We all have some sort of bias. Some biases are innocent, like who our favorite sports teams are. Just because a bias is innocent, however, does not mean it does not cause harm. If a medical professional is biased, this can be dangerous, if not fatal, in some instances. The most common form of bias is contextual bias, and there’s reason to believe it plays the likelihood of why some people experience medical malpractice.

What is Contextual Bias?

Contextual bias is when someone with good intentions makes incorrect decisions based on external influences and/or influences unrelated to the situation. This is important to medicine because in the United States, we are full of different unique people with unique backgrounds. Characteristics like race, gender, and certain conditions affect our physical bodies. To try and memorize or account for them all may seem difficult, but it’s what we expect of the medical professionals we trust with our health and lives.

But what if, because of contextual bias, they assume they shouldn’t? Are there certain groups more likely to suffer medical malpractice due to contextual bias? There are certain statistics about doctors and patients that make it seem like not all of us are treated fairly by our medical professionals.

Why Would Doctors Be Biased?

Currently, based on studies and researched statistics, there are over 55,500 doctors, and among them, 54.2% are women and 45.8% are men. It’s not as much of a male-dominated field, with a more even split. The same is not true when you look at the population of doctors based on race and/or ethnicity. Currently:

  • 65.6% of doctors are white
  • 18.1% are Asian, which pertains to several different ethnicities
  • 8.9% are Hispanic or Latino
  • 7.4% are African American, Native American, or other

This means there is a significant underrepresentation of lives in the U.S. among those who are medically treating the U.S. population. But has this led to issues?

The Dangers of Racial Bias

There have been multiple studies done across the country that have found that many doctors believe in racially charged myths in medicine. One of the most commonly believed myths, as reported by Janice A. Sabin from AAMC, is that “black people’s skin is thicker than white people’s.” This is one of many other ideas, such as that “black people’s nerve endings are less sensitive than white people’s,” and that “black people’s blood coagulates more quickly than white people’s.”

These dangerous beliefs have then led to African Americans receiving little to no pain medication after even serious operations. This was found after studying over 20 years of studies on pain prescriptions for African Americans.

The lack of proper pain prescriptions can leave people unable to work and live their lives while in recovery, leading to further injury. Years of medical malpractice have gone unchecked, and there isn’t a reason to think that’s stopped, or even improved. But there’s also reason to believe that race and ethnicity aren’t the only factors that lead to medical bias.

Gender Bias at the Doctor’s Office

While the percentage of male to female doctors has evened out over the years, that’s no reason to allow a male doctor to not treat a female patient effectively. It’s incredibly common for female patients to report that they feel ignored, dismissed, or treated differently by their medical practitioners based on their gender, more so than male patients.

There’s been a long-known problem among medical professionals that they don’t know as much about women’s health as they should. It’s been reported by Emily Paulsen from Duke Health, that women “were excluded from clinical trials for many years,” and this has led to medical professionals not knowing exactly how medicine accurately affects them.

Because of this, women cannot receive the optimal care they deserve. Instead, many find themselves dismissed or ignored by their medical professionals until the situation gets worse. Even as the female body has been studied in clinical trials, medicine is still rife with medical malpractice when women are patients.

Some studies have found that when a woman is operated on by a male doctor, she is 15% more likely to suffer a bad outcome, and 32% more likely to die. These percentages drop when it’s a female doctor in charge of surgery, leading many to jump to the logical conclusion that male doctors have some kind of bias affecting their ability to operate on women.

Medical Malpractice Can Cost People Their Lives

Personal injuries can cost people and their families their savings and their ability to support themselves. Sometimes it even costs people their lives. Medical malpractice is one of the worst forms of personal injury because the people hurting you are supposed to heal you. Instead, they cause you grievous injury, long-term suffering, or even death.

There are people who medical professionals sometimes can’t save, and there isn’t always a reason to believe that when a patient passes away, it’s on purpose. But not everyone who dies on the operating table does so because it is their time. Sometimes it’s because a doctor was ill-prepared, filled with contextual bias, and operated on someone they shouldn’t have.

When that is the case, you need an attorney willing to fight for you and your family. You deserve justice when your doctors operate, prescribe, or misdiagnose you based on biases they should know better than to believe.

What Should You Do if You’re Hurt or a Loved One Dies Due to Biased Medical Malpractice?

If you’re injured, you should seek out another medical professional to treat you. If your loved one died on the operating table, take time to mourn. Then please contact our medical malpractice attorneys. You should not have to go through this tough time alone when it was a doctor’s bias that injured you.

Contact attorneys who are small enough to care, and big enough to fight for you. Contact the attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C.

Rachel Olszewski
Rachel Olszewski

Rachel D. Olszewski, an attorney at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., is a dedicated advocate for clients who have suffered unjust harm. Following the legacy of her esteemed family members, Rachel specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice, and criminal defense. She is actively involved in professional associations and serves on the board of the Luzerne County Bar Association Charitable Foundation. Rachel is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania state courts and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
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