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Black patients often victims of dermatology misdiagnoses

Black people have the lowest life expectancy of any major group in the country, and the reality of racial bias in the medical field is partially to blame. Dermatology is one area in particular where Black patients are often the victims of misdiagnoses and other errors. Ohio residents should know that lack of specific training, biases in the medical education itself and inadequate examination skills contribute to this problem.

At the most basic level, clinicians may fail to recognize a rash on a Black patient’s skin. Other conditions that would reveal themselves on a person’s skin, such as lupus and certain drug reactions, are all too easily missed in Black individuals. One physician spoke of a patient who suffered an adverse reaction to a sulfonamide antibiotic, developed body-wide blisters and was mistakenly sent to the burn unit.

Whereas inflammations caused by greater blood flow appear red or pink on white skin, they appear brown or violet on brown skin. Yet many doctors and nurses do not know this. Many clinicians have not been educated, either, on what conditions appear more frequently in people of color. The images that clinicians show to illustrate a patient’s condition may also be misleading if the people in those images are not the same color as the patient.

Numerous factors could be behind the failure to diagnose a condition, and possible racial bias is only one. Many conditions share similar symptoms, for instance, while others are rare, and few specialists are available to identify them. Whatever their situation, victims of diagnostic errors may want a lawyer to assess their cases and determine if they would be eligible for damages. A successful claim could cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. An attorney may handle negotiations.

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