- Both healthcare providers and their patients receive inappropriate comments about race in medical settings, according to a report out Wednesday from healthcare safety organization ECRI.
- In a review of more than 500 race-related patient safety incidents, the report found that 57% of incidents were related to patients making inappropriate racial comments, while racial comments made by staff were reported in 42% of incidents.
- The results are concerning to ECRI experts who say such incidents could cause providers to leave their roles amid ongoing nationwide staffing shortages.
Racial disparities in healthcare settings have been well documented and highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately claimed more lives of people of color and those in underserved communities.
In 2021, ECRI named racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare delivery, particularly related to COVID-19 screening and treatment, as the No. 1 patient safety concern that year.
Providers, too, have been on the receiving end of racist comments from patients, which can negatively affect their mental health and well-being in the workplace. The racial comments facing providers come amid widespread burnout in the profession.
Hospitals and health systems should address the issue, especially those experiencing severe staffing shortages, according to ECRI.
Providers and patients can receive a variety of racially charged comments, which ECRI divided into seven categories.
The most frequently reported incidents involved a patient or family member making inappropriate comments regarding race or ethnicity, and patients who claim others are racist or engaging in racist behavior, according to the report.
Other less frequent incidents involved patients or family members reporting disparate care due to a patient’s race or ethnicity, staff making inappropriate comments about race or ethnicity and staff reporting management discrimination.
Additional incidents involved patients requesting providers based on race or ethnicity, and unavailable interpretation or translation services.
“This analysis provides a snapshot into the experiences of racial and ethnic minority groups at every level of care delivery,” Dheerendra Kommala, chief medical officer at ECRI said, in a release.
“More needs to be done. ECRI is working with healthcare institutions to set up organizational procedures to identify, report, and resolve these issues,” she said.