In six seasons, John Oliver can get goofy with Chilitan, a town mascot in Japan. But, he’ll also explain foreign policy topics to Americans like Brexit the best anyone could here, here and here and even attempted to explain Boris Johnson and that mess. He’s tackled important topics like Prison Labor and for profit jails, Family Separation, and multi level marketing which as you know at TN, we have a problem with.
It was a recent episode of Last Week Tonight Oliver discussed medical bias the role that gender and race play in someone’s treatment. Now, at TN we’ve discussed IRL personal medical issues like our periods, Bekah had an Ovarian Cyst rupture, I had a hysterectomy at 42 and I shared the hoops I had to jump through, and Laura just shared her current battle with the FDA for her TMJ joint replacement.
Bias in Medicine
There were things in the video that weren’t new to me. I’ve been treated like this by doctors. But I don’t know, maybe I am conditioned to hearing it in the British man’s voice that made me pay attention and get more outraged.
Women are “… less likely … to receive potentially life-saving interventions …”
I’ve been sick again recently and fighting insurance companies to pay for $1,300 medicines or told to wait six-eight weeks for another ultrasound to see if the pain or symptoms subside already had me at my breaking point. So when John shared this timely little ditty about “the man who by law is privileged to practice the most respected of all professions,” I knew I’d have something to say.
Now I feel I have a fairly decent tolerance for pain but I shouldn’t have to go without pain killers because a doctor feels I have cried wolf, or may be emotionally imbalanced or heaven forbid “hysterical.” Recent studies suggest that women are less diagnosed for Alzheimer’s because they don’t receive the same attentive care as men, the other is women have a better coping mechanisms and ability to communicate and compensate than men.
Fine Art Pain scale
A friends mum felt that the usual hospital pain scale didn’t relate to her as a patient. So I give you, created by her son, The Work of Art Pain Scale: (genius) #workofartpainscale pic.twitter.com/BtHiYJEHe0
— Tea™ (@TeaLady24) June 8, 2018
There are days that I’m a 7, sometimes an 8, I don’t take morphine on a daily basis but I hover at a 5. But I know people who are at a 10 on a daily basis. But their 10 may be my 7. It’s all subjective. I mean Laura gets to a Dali at least twice a day.
Those Pesky Hormones
Oliver takes a brief line from a 60 Minutes interview with Larry Cahill and Leslie Stahl where he says “You are me, just with pesky hormones.” I wanted more information so I dug deeper and found the full interview and what made 60 Minutes even go there. Ignore/forgive the Charlie Rose, this was from 2014 and who knows what he was thinking?! But it was just FIVE years ago when the FDA realized there was a difference between prescribing Ambien between men and women! And they aren’t even looking at women vs. women in the results, but lumping the women in with the men.
“… there was no evidence at the time that the difference mattered. That was 20 years ago, when if someone said “women’s health,” it usually meant what they call “bikini medicine” — breast and ovarian cancer, pregnancy, menstrual cycles. But for parts of the body men and women share — hearts, kidneys, the brain — most of the studies were done predominantly on men.
So consider me shocked when Oliver revealed a news report from Journal of the National Cancer Institute in the 90s that published a report about diet and estrogen metabolization and it’s links to cancer of the breast and uterus. All of the subjects were MALE. How were they not the laughing stock of the medical community?? I get that it’s an old report but how did this happen?
Heart Attack Signs
Did you know what the signs of heart attack were before watching this video? Because I wasn’t exactly sure. Make sure you know, just in case so you can ask your ER doctor and advocate for yourself! Click here to know more!
Now, I can only speak to the one particular bias, the female one. I cannot imagine the racial bias that others have to go through and I’m going to stay in my lane. Misinformation between races is an understatement. I work in an education related field and I see racial bias in text books written from the white perspective all the time.
In August, California’s Ethnic Studies Curriculum needed to be revised. Other text books create a “white redemption narrative” when dealing with slavery because they wanted to take a PC approach. But when it comes to medicine, doctors, people who have had years of higher training, should know better, but they don’t.
When they said they believe black women less, I was angry. I get “not believed” a lot, but not as much as others.
I will relay a story that was shared to me. An African-American friend who has been married for 15+ years had some lady bits problems. The male gynecologist asked what type of birth control she used. She said none. He asked about her husband, he had a vasectomy. The doctor then, quite seriously asked about her boyfriends and if she used protection with them. She clarified to make sure he was not joking. He said, “I need to have a complete sexual history if I’m going to treat you.” She found a new doctor following the appointment.
Would he have said that if she were white?
While we might not be able to ask if our doctor has had bias training, and we can’t go to a Shonda Rhimes hospital, you can perhaps see a diverse doctor. But most of all like Wanda Sykes said, you can advocate for yourself. Don’t have a white man to take to the doctor’s office? Wanda has that covered, bring a white man! She enlisted Larry David and What’s Larry’s Problem?
I tried to gif them – they are no where to be found and I can’t make gifs.
I did watch a couple of react videos of doctors who took issues with the episode. I do feel it is fair that doctors may feel attacked if they are doing a good job or have limited resources. This video is Doctor Mike who is a doctor in the NY/NJ area and he did a thoughtful analysis of the video.
His statement that “women speak in a narrative” when describing their symptoms hit me right in my guts. So when I’m crying on the phone with my male gastroenterologist that nothing is visible on my MRI, I take a breath before diving into my narrative to explain why I’m not crazy and this is not all in my head.