Advice for Minorities: 10 ways to get better care from your doctor

If you’re a woman, African American, or Latino, you are likely receiving lower quality healthcare than Caucasian males. Causes for disparities—also known as injustices—in care include conscious or unconscious bias from your doctor, stereotyping, racism, or sexism. While these are complex issues not easily overcome, you can take control as a patient to combat some of these disparities in order to receive better care.

Dr. Augustus A. White III recently published Some Advice for Minorities and Women on the Receiving End of Health-care Disparities. This article outlines 15 steps women and minorities can take to improve the odds of getting better care.

Below are the top 10 highlights from Dr. White. You can download the entire article here. Some Advice for Minorities and Women on the Receiving End of Health-care Disparities.

  1. Know your rights. As a patient you have the right to good care. The U.S. Constitution and other legislation guarantee it. Learn more about your rights here: www.nationalhealthcouncil.org/.
  2. Always answer questions about race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation when filling out forms. Hospitals and clinics collect and use this data to help provide better care.
  3. Don’t ignore the Patient Satisfaction Survey. If you did not receive adequate care, make it known. If a hospital or clinic doesn’t know you are unsatisfied, they cannot make any changes.
  4. Become health literate. Study your symptoms at www.webmd.com or www.mayoclinic.com before your visit. This will help you talk with your doctor and ask better questions.
  5. Ask questions. Write down questions before your visit if you can. If you are uncertain about anything your doctor says during your visit, ask questions.
  6. Repeat back what your doctor has said. Restating to your doctor in your own words is a good way to determine if you fully understand your condition.
  7. Be frank. If you feel during your visit that you are not receiving good care, tell your doctor. It’s your right to receive excellent care; speak up if you experience anything less.
  8. Make a connection. Ask your doctor about his or her children or grandchildren, or ask about the weather. Establishing a personal, human connection with your doctor can result in better care.
  9. Bring a friend. If you need help or emotional support, bring a friend or family member who can help discuss your medical needs.
  10. Report incidents to management. If you experience unsatisfactory care, report it formally to someone with the authority to do something about it.
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