When Prejudiced Providers Show Their True Colors

Clare Xanthos, PhD
4 min readApr 8, 2023

Overt Prejudice among Healthcare Workers Illustrates the Need for Legal Reform

Image by santokh3386 from Pixabay

Over the last 20 years or so, a growing number of research articles and media reports have demonstrated that racial discrimination in healthcare is a serious issue. Indeed, discrimination in the healthcare setting is a significant cause of poor quality care among visible minorities in the US, UK, Canada, and other Western countries. This is demonstrated by the shocking racial disparities in quality of care across all medical specialties, as well as the testimonies of patients and healthcare workers of color. Furthermore, the evidence points to a systemic problem, rather than just “a few bad apples.”

Overt Prejudice

The use of racially offensive language among healthcare workers is another illustration of the reality of racial prejudice in healthcare. While there doesn’t appear to be much formal research regarding overt bias among healthcare professionals, there is increasing evidence of this online, as well as (occasional) coverage of the issue by media outlets.

Source: Ovation Wellness on Instagram (8/5/22)

For example, in August 2022, a video was posted on social media showing an apparently intoxicated Mississippi nurse practitioner using racial slurs at what appears to be a social gathering. When this individual’s (now previous) employer, Ovation Wellness was made aware of the video, the situation was taken seriously, and the female nurse practitioner was fired immediately; however, as reported by Midlevel.WTF, it appears that she is still permitted to practice at this time. Given that healthcare settings are places where acting on racial bias could result in serious injury or death, the probability that this nursing practitioner is still treating patients is very concerning. It’s also regrettable that this particular story was ignored by the mainstream media, and doesn’t appear to have received any coverage in the local news.

In another example, the BBC reported on Melanie Hayes, a UK nurse who made racially offensive remarks and used racial slurs over a six year period, while working at…

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Clare Xanthos, PhD

WRITER. AUTHOR. SCHOLAR. Interests: Racial Equity, Racial Health Equity, Racial Justice. Co-Editor: Social Determinants of Health among African-American Men