UVA Doctor Presents Research to NAACP to Discuss Racial Disparities in Medical Treatment

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Dr. Oliver at Jefferson School Dr. Oliver at Jefferson School

A University of Virginia doctor is trying to erase racial disparities when it comes to the way people are treated in hospitals.

He's presenting some of his research to the Charlottesville-Albemarle NAACP to try and educate the public.

The discussion is about racial bias and treatment of African-Americans and other people of color versus white people. Researchers have found that people of color aren't necessarily getting the same treatment as others because of pre-existing beliefs not necessarily the color of their skin.

“There’s only one human race, just one,” Dr. Norman Oliver at Virginia Department of Health.

Oliver and other doctors did a study over four years by surveying random people and people who want to work in the medical field.

"What they were doing for a very severe bone injury fractures, they were treating whites with much more potent pain medication and they weren't doing that with the African-American patients," Oliver said.

It found bias in prescribing medicine or treating patients was not because of skin color but because a false belief that a black person might respond differently to medicine than a white person.

"It boils down to if you think for example that blacks are stronger and can withstand pain more than you are less likely to treat them for a very painful situation, some say they can deal with it," Oliver said.

On Monday, Oliver presented his findings in the NAACP meeting at the Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center.

His goal is to make sure every person is getting the same treatment for the same injury regardless of pre-existing beliefs that someone might respond differently to medicine because of their race.

“What we want to do is get something that we can change and alter in the clinical decision making process such that that racial bias goes away,” Oliver said.

One way Oliver hopes to address this bias is by changing school curriculum nationwide so students are learning that each person needs to be treated the same regardless of skin color.

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