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Physician group highlights problem of medical racial profiling in disciplinary process, P.1

Racial profiling in law enforcement is certainly an important issue nowadays, and law enforcement agencies and the public are well aware of it. Racial profiling has been defined different ways, but the Minnesota legislature has defined it to be any action taken by law enforcement which is based on a criminal suspect’s race, ethnicity or national origin rather than the suspect’s behavior or information leading law enforcement to believe a particular individual is or has been involved in criminal activity.

The basic idea behind racial profiling in law enforcement is that racial bias, rather than evidence, is used to target individuals. Interestingly, racial profiling may be a problem not only in law enforcement, but in physician discipline as well, at least in some states. 

As a recent article points out, racial profiling in connection with the physician discipline process may be a problem out in California. The practice is referred to as medical racial profiling, which involves selectively targeting African American doctors and subjecting them to the physician disciplinary process. According to a group of African American doctors in California, the California Medical Board subjects African American doctors to a disproportionate amount of disciplinary action.

Excessive discipline of African American doctors is not only unfair, it has a chilling effect. This is bad for predominantly African American communities, as African American doctors are much more likely than Caucasian doctors to provide health care and establish medical practices in African American communities. These communities are more likely to be low-income and to involve patients who rely on state funding to pay for medical care.

We’ll continue looking at this issue in our next post.

Sources:

The Philadelphia Sun, “African American doctors charge medical racial profiling,” Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Oct. 21, 2016.

Irpumn.org, Minnesota Statewide Racial Profiling Report: All Participating Jurisdictions, September 2003

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