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Healthcare Providers Frequently Targeted in Racial Incidents

by | Oct 18, 2022 | News, Open Content

A new analysis by ECRI shows that, while patients are also common targets, providers had to face racist behavior or comments most often.

While many healthcare providers have begun focusing on how to reduce the disparities in health care that racial and other minorities face, a new analysis shows that healthcare providers themselves are also targets of racist behavior or remarks.

In the analysis, which is summarized in an Oct. 18 press release, ECRI, “a global, independent authority on healthcare technology and safety,” examined 503 patient safety incidents related to race, finding that, while patients are also often targets of racial incidents, healthcare staff encountered such behavior most often. Out of those safety incidents, which occurred between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020:

  • 57% involved patients either behaving in a racist manner or “making inappropriate racial comments” to staff, and
  • 42% involved racist comments or behavior directed by staff toward patients

ECRI sorted these racial incidents into seven different categories, with the top two most common involving either patients or their family members “making inappropriate comments regarding race or ethnicity” (56%) and patients saying “that others are racist or engaged in racist behavior” (22%).

These findings are important for healthcare providers to consider when they are developing their health equity plans, ECRI says, as the information shows indicate plans should involve protecting and serving not just patients, but also healthcare staff. The organization outlines key negative impacts such racial incidents can have on staff, including:

  • Staff either considering or deciding to leave the healthcare industry
  • Negative impact on staff mental health

Given that the healthcare industry is already facing intense understaffing issues and that the mental health of staff has been under strain due to these and other challenges, as well as an increase in pressure from the current COVID-19 pandemic, labs and other healthcare providers should take note of the report.

“This analysis provides a snapshot into the experiences of racial and ethnic minority groups at every level of care delivery,” says Dheerendra Kommala, MD, chief medical officer at ECRI, in the press release on the analysis. “More needs to be done. ECRI is working with healthcare institutions to set up organizational procedures to identify, report, and resolve these issues.”

In addition to this snapshot, the ECRI Deep Dive: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health and Healthcare report also provides steps labs and other providers can take to address both patient and staff safety issues relating to race in providers’ health equity plans.

G2 Intelligence subscribers can find key information on developing and implementing a health equity plan in a recent issue of Lab Compliance Advisor: