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Racial Bias and Your Health

Today’s newsletter was written pre-pandemic, when masks were rare and air travel was common. I’ve held it back a few months while addressing COVID-19 topics. Now, following the horrific death of George Floyd, and in the midst of #BlackLivesMatter protests, it seems more relevant than ever.

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Last week I flew from Bermuda to Boston with my family, when a stewardess approached and asked if I was a doctor. I was unshaven, a little scruffy, but she noticed some medical images on my computer and assumed my profession. A gentleman a few rows ahead was in distress. I logged out and trundled up to first class to see what was going on. The diagnosis turned out to be too much alcohol and an escalating panic attack, but my efforts earned me profuse thanks from the staff and a $50.00 flight voucher. Nice.

A few months ago, my daughter met another doctor who helped a patient on a plane. Dr. Fatima Stanford works at Massachusetts General Hospital and is an assistant professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. In 2018, she attended to a distressed airline passenger but was repeatedly interrupted by airline staff, asking to see her medical credentials. As part of a Communications assignment, my daughter attended a lecture by Dr. Stanford at Boston University’s School of Public Health and met her afterwards. Here’s the article she wrote.

Continued in newsletter…

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