Discrimination In Hospitals

Johnstone, Megan-Jane

Johnstone, Megan-Jane, and Olga Kanitsaki. “The Spectrum Of ‘New Racism’ And Discrimination In Hospital Contexts: A Reappraisal.” Collegian 16.(2009): 63-69. ScienceDirect. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.


Professor Megan-Jane Johnstone , an international healthcare ethicist, wrote the article “The spectrum of ‘new racism’ and discrimination in hospital contexts: A reappraisal” to bring attention to fact that, “Despite the universal right to health, people of minority racial and ethnic backgrounds experience commonplace and significant unjust inequalities in their health and health care.” Johnstone discuses this new form of racism that is unrecognizable for even those with racist intentions do to its “changing face”.


As evidence Johnstone presents three case scenarios conducted by “an Australian research study investigating cultural competency and cultural safety in health care (Johnstone & Kanitsaki, 2005).” Case one being about the staffs hospitality towards an Arabic woman who’s son required monthly treatment at a hospital due to his serious medical condition. Soon After the terrorist attack on 9/11 this woman noticed a “significant and soul-destroying change in attitude and behavior toward her by hospital staff.” She went on to say, “… they rejected, shunned and avoided her, and ultimately became inattentive and indifferent to her plight.” This type of discriminatory treatment was unfair in so many ways. Americans were so hurt with the unfortunate tragedy that happened that they just wanted to take it out on anyone with even the slightest resemblance of “the enemy”. Johnstone also included a quote from the Arabic woman’s sister about a conversation they shared with one saying, ‘Sometimes I want to say, “We’re not terrorists, we’re not liars.” I said, ‘No you don’t have to explain yourself. They can see you are a mother caring for your own son, you don’t have to say that.’ Regardless of the events people in America should be able to see that she is the same woman she was before 9/11 occurred.


Scenario two involves the experience of a health interpreter that had several years of experience with hospitals. This anonymous interpreter witnessed first hand a nurse putting “non-English speaking patients ‘at the bottom of the pile’ because of concerns they had that the patients would get ‘preferential treatment’ on account of an interpreter being booked for a specific time.” This has even led to interpreters having to leave their patients before they actually have been seen by their doctor because of other commitment.

Megan-Jane Johnstone wrote this article to bring the new form of racism and discrimination into the lime light to unmask the ugly truth and promote a change in order to make, “…hospitals safe havens where  people who are ill and injured can go for care and treatment without prejudice.” When going to a hospital a patient should expect that when receiving care they should be treated in a “non-discriminatory manner” and will be treated with the same respect as that of the staffs’ own family. This article would be useful for anyone writing about discrimination or racism in society today.


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