HOUSTON (FOX 26) - You're familiar with "White Coat Syndrome", but what about when patients refuse to see a doctor because he or she is not white?
Patients often avoid doctors who seem like they might be from another country or who do not look like themselves. Some may have preconceived stereotypes about the educational standards of minority physicians or foreign-trained physicians. Aside from being hurtful, this could also have an effect on the doctor's advancement, because some hospital priveleges and compensation are linked with the patient satisfaction report.
Dr. Curtis Okpara's appointment with a particular patient began with the usual pleasantries, but when the patient inquired about Dr. Okpara's last name, the interaction devolved into use of the "n-word", as well as statements such as "my grandparents probably lynch your grandparents".
"Doing everything that we can to save patient's lives and devote all of our time in the medical field, that really hit hard for us," said Dr. Okpara.
This is far from the first time Dr. Okpara has experienced discrimination in the medical field.
"I have a short time period in the medical field as I just finished training two years ago," he said."But I've dealt with it ever since I was a medical student."
Dr. Okpara made the decision to ask another physician to take over this patient's case, to protect himself and his support staff from further discrimination. As part of the 9% of physicians that are minorities, he believes it's time to start demanding change.