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Addressing racial bias in dermatology can avert misdiagnoses

| Jul 30, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Some Indiana residents may know that black people have the lowest life expectancy of any major group in this country. This is due to a number of factors, including poverty and the resulting lack of access to health care. Not only that, but black patients are also subject to misdiagnoses because of insufficient education and training on the part of doctors and nurses.

For example, dermatologists are often unaware of how certain conditions will show themselves on darker skin. Inflammation caused by increased blood flow will look brown or violet on darker skin, but many doctors can only spot it on lighter skin, which will be red or pink in such cases. Doctors can also easily miss rashes on dark skin, and even lupus and rashes caused by adverse drug reactions will go unnoticed.

Melanoma, which is an aggressive skin cancer, sees a high misdiagnosis rate among black people. The result of these misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses is a shorter life span for black patients. However, these errors can be avoided if doctors are trained on how to examine skin conditions on people of color and know what conditions are especially prevalent among such people. Doctors can also build trust by explaining conditions to black patients with the use of images that actually resemble them.

Diagnostic errors ar, a leading cause of medical malpractice claims. Those who think they have a case will need to prove several things. First, there must have been a preexisting doctor-patient relationship. The patients must have followed the doctor’s instructions. The doctor must be shown to have failed in upholding an objective standard of care, and this failure must be linked to the injury. An experienced attorney along with one or more medical experts can be of assistance in this regard.