Racial inequality is well-documented in the medical field. Therefore, residents of New Mexico, especially those with darker skin, should be aware of the potential for a misdiagnosis of dermatology-related medical issues. Potential reasons that Black patients are failed in the health care industry are the bias in medical education and a lack of appropriate informational tools for Black-based diagnoses.
Dermatologists who treat skin diseases can sometimes misdiagnose patients of color because rashes or skin irregularities present differently on individuals with darker-colored skin. For example, inflammation appears red or pink on lighter-colored skin whereas inflammation appears brown or violet on brown skin. If a clinician is trained to recognize a rash as pink or red, it may be missed entirely on a darker-skinned individual. The inability to recognize a symptom as simple as a rash is something that can be trained for. This has the potential to reduce error and bias and can aid in providing the same level of treatment with the same correctly diagnosed diseases for all skin colors.
A diversification of educational materials for patients can transform a conversation from a one-way telling of facts to a two-way discussion of the medical issue and potential paths forward. In a time of increased telemedicine, simply changing the images that a clinician uses to exemplify an issue can increase patient-doctor trust and move toward optimal patient experiences. Increasing the diversity of images to study from and to exemplify skin-related conditions can help provide more rapid and more accurate diagnoses of skin-related diseases.
If an individual has experienced a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis due to a misunderstanding of how the disease or condition should present as a result of skin color, it may be time to find an attorney to represent that individual. An experienced attorney may be able to maximize the retribution for damages done to an individual or an individual’s family member by a health care professional.