Dealing with Racist Patients


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Kimani Paul-Emile, Professor of Law, Associate Director and Head of Domestic Programs and Initiatives at Fordham Law School's Center on Race, Law & Justice, and faculty co-director of the Fordham Law School Stein Center for Law & Ethics, discusses the legal and ethical issues that arise when patients refuse care based on a treating physician's race or ethnic background.


Discussion Questions

  • What were your initial reactions to the hypothetical case of a patient who refuses to be treated by any black doctors? How did you think the hospital should react?
  • Did your opinions about what should happen change with the additional hypotheticals (military veteran patient and female patient with history of trauma)?
  • With all the hypotheticals and stakeholder interests in mind, what policies would you recommend the hospital adopt to address the issue of racist patients? Who would you involve in developing those policies?

Selected Resources

Kimani Paul-Emile, Alexander K. Smith, Bernard Lo, and Alicia Fernández, Dealing with Racist Patients, NEJM, 354: 708-711 (2016)

Michelle York, Kyle Langford, Mario Davidson, Celeste Hemingway, Regina Russell, Maya Neeley, and Amy Fleming, Becoming Active Bystanders and Advocates: Teaching Medical Students to Respond to Bias in the Clinical Setting, MedEdPORTAL, 17: 11175 (2021), available at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8374028

Right to Be (includes free training, including Bystander Intervention Training): https://righttobe.org

English.srt (15 kB)

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