Seeing Patients: Unconscious Bias in Health Care

Augustus A White, Author, David Chanoff, With
Augustas A. White III, with David Chanoff, Harvard Univ., $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-674-04905-5
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When White attended Stanford in the late ‘50s he was one of four students of color. A recommendation letter written by a mentor then included "this is a pale, colored boy" to avoid misunderstanding. Now White recounts his ground-breaking life in an engaging, matter-of-fact manner. Eight of the 12 chapters tell his amazing story, from his birth in 1936 in a segregated Memphis (his trailblazing father, a doctor, died when White was only eight), to a 1967 tour of Vietnam wherein White worked in a leprosarium, to a fellowship at a biomechanics lab in Sweden, to his appointment to head a new orthopedic academic program at Harvard. A chance encounter with a woman who felt doctors judged her by her full-body tattoo led White to consider disparities in health care. Challenges exist on both sides of the stethoscope, White argues, noting that the uncertainty felt by many African-American patients over how they will be perceived also impacts the medical encounter; the burden for alleviating racial and other disparities (such as those based in age, gender, and sexual orientation) falls on the medical and educational communities. Accessible, thought-provoking, and valuable. 17 halftones. (Jan.)
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