Black doctors nationwide say they face discrimination in racially hostile work environments, ranging from micro-aggression to unfair disciplinary actions, the Associated Press reports.
“We have scores of doctors that are sending us letters about these same discriminatory practices all the time and seeking our help as an association in fighting that,” Dr. Rachel Villanueva, president of the National Medical Association, which represents Black doctors, told the AP.
Black doctors represent just 5 percent of active physicians, while only 8.1 percent of Black students are enrolled in the medical school pipeline.
Some Black physicians who believed they were unfairly targeted are taking legal action. They include Dr. Dare Adewumi, who was terminated in 2019 after landing a job one year earlier to lead neurosurgery services at Wellstar Cobb Hospital in Austell, Ga.
Adewumi, 39, alleges in a September federal lawsuit that he faced racial discrimination that not only led to his firing but has also prevented him from finding permanent work elsewhere. His suit accuses the Wellstar Medical Group and Wellstar Health Systems of employment discrimination based on race. Wellstar has denied the allegations.
“Wellstar does not discriminate. Dr. Adewumi has not been the subject of discrimination or unfair treatment. Patient care and safety are Wellstar’s top priorities,” Wellstar’s attorney William Hill told the AP, declining to comment further because the case is sealed.
According to Adewumi, he began receiving anonymous letters of inquiry in November 2018 about surgeries he had performed, which the hospital’s medical executive committee reviewed. Within eight months, he received 15 such letters. Colleagues filed 14 of them.
An independent review also found that the concerns stemmed from opinions about his approach or surgical technique but not patient safety. As far as Adewumi knew, at least two white colleagues performed unnecessary surgeries or disfigured patients without repercussions.
Several other Black doctors told the AP that they also experienced working in a competitive hospital hierarchy that can target doctors they don’t like or perceive as threats.
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