Patient Safety, Position Statement

Race is a Patient Safety Issue

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed during an arrest by the Minneapolis police. Since that time, Derek Chauvin (one of the police involved in that incident) has been found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter, and the other three former Minneapolis police officers involved in his death have been indicted on federal civil rights charges.

There have been calls for policing to be reformed. However, we must acknowledge that Black Lives Matter goes beyond policing. 

Race is a patient safety issue. As the Association of Black Cardiologists stated with the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology on May 31, 2020:

“Like cardiovascular disease, acts of violence and racism are core causes of psychosocial stress that promote poor well-being and cardiovascular health, especially for communities of color. Given that heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death for communities of color, particularly African-Americans who have the lowest life-expectancy of all racial/ethnic groups living in the United States, we are extremely disturbed by violent acts that cut to the core of the lives of our community. Therefore, along with other leading health organizations, we DENOUNCE incidents of racism and violence that continue to ravage our communities … The profound grief and stress triggered by these events, as well as the consequences for black lives, contribute significantly to cardiovascular risk. Each episode has emotional and physiological effects on individuals and all communities.”

Disparities, inequities, violence, and racism are completely unacceptable. 

We must act NOW to address any and all inequities in the delivery of care. We must recognize that Black Lives Matter is not just a call for justice and about the murder of George Floyd, but also a time to fix healthcare inequalities wherever they exist. 

We must act NOW to:

  • Actively be anti-racist.
  • Recognize that racism is not just a health disparity issue, but a societal issue that has a profound impact on ALL communities.
  • Identify and call out racism, whether that it exists in ourselves, our neighbors, or in our leaders.
  • Listen and follow black voices, like the Association of Black Cardiologists and the National Black Nurses Association.

To read the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety position statement, “Black Lives Matter, Healthcare Inequalities, and the Need for Systemic Change, please click here.

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