Home » Advocacy » Understanding Vaccines » Health Care Bias — Conscious or Unconscious — Is a Very Real Concern
Understanding Vaccines

Health Care Bias — Conscious or Unconscious — Is a Very Real Concern

multi-ethnic group of doctors in office
multi-ethnic group of doctors in office
Dan Dimacuha

Dan Dimacuha

Infection Prevention and Control Professional, Halton Healthcare & Chair, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group, Infection Prevention and Control Canada

Health care professionals aim to do good and are bound by strict ethical standards, but that doesn’t prevent biases from rearing up.

The health care system should be impartial to bias while providing exemplary, patient-centred care to the communities it serves. However, health care professionals are susceptible to projecting their biases toward their patients unintentionally, which can have detrimental effects on the level of care provided and overall health. Health care biases can lead to poor patient care, delays in treatment, or inaccurate diagnoses, which ultimately lead to worsening health conditions and negative outcomes for patients.

Health care bias can take on many forms, such as ageism, ableism, racial bias, sex and gender bias, socioeconomic status bias, geographic location bias, and level of education bias. Another example of unconscious bias in health care is cultural stereotyping, which further perpetuates health inequalities. There are many patients who have fallen victim to health care bias, suffering traumatic experiences during their hospital visits and sometimes, unfortunately, experiencing negative outcomes.

Health care bias can be combated through various methods to ensure that all patients are provided equitable care without judgment or preconceived notions being projected onto them. Firstly, health care systems should acknowledge and recognize that discrimination and biases are present at the workplace. Once acknowledged, organizations should commit to a culture of inclusion to serve the diverse population in the community. Cultural competency training should be provided for all health care professionals to ensure that they’re well-equipped to combat their unconscious biases and provide equitable care. Furthermore, health care staff should deliberatively reflect upon their own biases to ensure that they don’t unintentionally affect their patients.

With proper attention and training, we can address the impact of health care biases and ensure better outcomes for all patients.

Next article