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Empowering Care Providers to Address Patient Discrimination in the Clinical Setting

The Journeys in Medicine event on Oct. 17 focused on the topic of “Empowering Care Providers to Address Patient Discrimination in the Clinical Setting." While this is not a new issue at Johns Hopkins, it has become a more frequent problem in the last 6-8 months given the national political climate.

Sherita Golden, professor and executive vice chair, introduced the event and the topic, which was followed by a video of Maryam Keshtkar-Jahromi, assistant professor, sharing her personal story of a patient and family interacting with her disrespectfully because of her ethnic background. Joseph Carrese, professor and chair of the Bayview Medical Center Ethics Committee, then presented a model for thinking about this issue and responding to offending patients from the perspective of clinical ethics and professionalism. Click here fro key points from Dr. Carrese’s presentation.

Next, James Page, chief diversity officer, introduced and presented the video that he and his group created to demonstrate to the public (and our faculty and staff) that diversity and inclusion are in the DNA of Johns Hopkins. The video is an account of Johns Hopkins’ personal vision as described in his founding letter when he gave money to establish the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Johns Hopkins University – a vision grounded in the values of respect, dignity, integrity, inclusion, excellence and diversity. The video celebrates the wonderful diversity of people who constitute the Johns Hopkins health system community.

We then broke into small groups to discuss four different case scenarios that depicted instances of bigotry of one form or another directed at staff by patients or family members. The point of this exercise was to practice responding to these situations professionally and respectfully, but at the same time sending a firm and clear message that bigotry of any kind is not acceptable and that we expect patients and family members to treat staff with respect and dignity. It was noted that these expectations are explicitly stated in hospital’s patient bill of rights and responsibilities.

A panel that included Walter Vaughn, security training coordinator for Hopkins Corporate Security, Eloiza Domingo-Snyder, senior director of diversity and inclusion for Johns Hopkins Medicine and Joseph Carrese then fielded questions from the audience. The event concluded with audience members being urged to take the following pledge:

As a member of the Johns Hopkins community, I pledge to take a stand against discrimination towards our colleagues, patients and the communities we serve, thus reinforcing our core values of respect, integrity, and equity.”


Kelsey Bennett