Patients may ask for different ER doctor

July 23, 2010 at 1:38 AM
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ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 23 (UPI) -- Minorities who request a different doctor than the one assigned them in a U.S. emergency room are likely to be accommodated, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and colleagues at the University of Rochester and University of Pennsylvania, say their study shows women and minorities are more likely to make a doctor request, but when patients ask, female physicians are more supportive than male physicians.

"Some patients prefer, and are more satisfied with, providers of the same gender, race, or faith," lead author Dr. Aasim I. Padela, an emergency physician at the University of Michigan Health System, said. "This study is the first to look at the culture of accommodation in the emergency department."

Black patients tend to rate black providers higher in quality, Hispanics tend to be more satisfied with care from Hispanics and Asians prefer care from those with a similar background, due to prior discrimination, perception of a lack of cultural sensitivity or language difficulties, the study concluded.

However, physicians appear unaware of these patient preferences -- one-third of the 176 physicians surveyed at the American College of Emergency Physicians Scientific Assembly say they felt patients perceive they get better care from those matched racially.

Since some 80 percent of U.S. ER physicians are white, this lack of awareness could affect physicians' attitude toward honoring patient requests, the researchers say.

The findings are published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.

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