Physicians Who Experience Patient Prejudice Lack Resources

Tara Haelle


October 18, 2017

Large Healthcare Organizations

Medscape reached out to 10 of the largest healthcare organizations in the country to find out what, if any, corporate-wide policies, protocols, or resources they had for care providers who experience discrimination from patients.

Most were unavailable or unable to provide comment. A spokesperson at HCA Holdings said that those policies and resources are left to individual institutions to develop. Catholic Health Initiatives, a healthcare system based in Englewood, Colorado, likewise has no system-wide policy because their institutions range from expansive academic medical centers and large community hospitals to small rural hospitals, says Robert Weil, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer. Instead, the organization's core values of reverence, integrity, compassion, and excellence drive policy at all facilities, Dr Weil told Medscape.

"We will do everything in our power to support patients' right to express themselves within the bounds of protecting patients' health, safety, and wellness," Dr Weil says, but that doesn't mean accommodating every request.

"Patients need to have some understanding that we are representing the entire community and doing our best to bring together a lot of different voices so we can cover the entire community," Dr Weil says. "Sometimes the needs of the few are important to consider, but bias and bigotry are not qualities we celebrate. We think the needs of the many, particularly with respect to human dignity, are what we hold dear."

Dr Weil did not know what resources the organization's individual hospitals may offer but says that most have a ministry representative available to staff, distinct from chaplains, whom doctors can speak to about work experiences.

At the Veterans Administration, "management is responsible for ensuring that VA employees work in a harassment-free work environment and must take appropriate steps as outlined [through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion] to address harassing conduct, including conduct by clients and customers," spokesperson Tatjana Christian told Medscape. The VA operates a harassment prevention program (for any harassment, not just from patients) and offers various training modules on bias and harassment. VA employees can find resources at or by calling (888) 56-NEW VA (566-3982) for information on the harassment program.


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