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How do I deal with a racist patient?

Patients come in all shapes and flavors. Sometimes that flavor is ignorant. America is a layered, cosmopolitan country comprised of people of various faiths and ethnicities. Most Americans would agree this is a positive and enlightening thing, but there are a few bad apples out there. Sometimes a closed-minded or culturally illiterate patient is going to wind up in one of your hospital beds.

You can’t just toss these people out onto the street. That’s technically immoral. Medical professionals are bound by honor to treat everyone equally, no matter how fervently we may disagree with them.

Here are some ways to deal with a racist patient:

• Give the patient a stern warning. Tell them that racist talk is not acceptable in the hospital.

• If possible, isolate the patient. If the patient is going to be abusive to minority staff members, other patients or doctors, then the patient may have to be isolated so as not to upset the critical and steady flow of your care facility. Do not condone the actions of the racist patient in any way.

• Remain curtly courteous, but call the patient on his behavior, even in isolation.

• If isolation isn’t possible, and the patient is mobile, tell the patient that they are free to check into another facility.

And remind yourself: Sometimes these people have been brought up with racism—their parents were racist, and their social circle embraces racism. This doesn’t condone the belief whatsoever, but sometimes it’s a matter of lack of exposure and ignorance as opposed to them being truly bad people.

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