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Race and Ethnicity Influences the Quality of Medical Care Infants Receive

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Studies indicate that there is a considerable gap in care provided to children of different races and ethnic backgrounds. These factors should never influence a patient’s care and when they do the consequences can be life-threatening. When physicians, nurses, and other caregivers engage in discriminatory health care practices, they negligently place infant patients at risk for serious birth injuries that can result in lifelong disabilities or death. 

California Studies Show Dangerous Picture

In August 2017, research published in Pediatrics gathered from 134 Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU’s) examined the care received by 18,000 low-birth-weight infants from 2010 to 2014. The study examined nine specific data points including healthcare outcomes to determine whether disparities in care were present. The data showed that there were disparities received by infants at different hospitals and that in general, vulnerable populations including blacks and Hispanics received lower quality care than white patients. One reason posited for this disparity was that black and Hispanic patients tend to seek treatment at hospitals that typically perform lower overall.   

Discrimination in Care

Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers are not allowed to discriminate based on race, gender, age, or financial status, according to a Chicago medical malpractice attorney. They are required to treat all patients with the same level of care. When physicians treat patients differently because of these factors either through neglecting treatment or not offering treatments which are considered standard such as the administration of steroids to facilitate lung development in pre-term infants, they are discriminating against the patients who need their help the most, namely the infants who are most vulnerable. 

Documenting Discrimination

Mothers, fathers, and other family members responsible for the care of the infant should thoroughly document their interactions with healthcare providers they suspect of discriminating against their infant child. This documentation should include records of communications, lists of treatments/medications administered, and other information that can establish that an infant did not receive competent care. Whenever possible, family members should take active steps to remove the infant from the care of the discriminating caregiver to minimize and prevent further harm to the infant. 

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