Study Shows Black Stroke Patients More Likely to be Misdiagnosed
About 800,000 Americans suffer from strokes each year, and nearly 130,000 die as a result of a stroke – that’s one death every four minutes. Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to suffer a stroke,partly due to the prevalence of obesity in black communities. As a result, this means they are more likely to die. Therefore, it is incredibly important that African-American patients are properly diagnosed and effectively treated for strokes to offset these risk factors. However, a new study from Johns Hopkins University shows that emergency room physicians are over 30% more likely to misdiagnose black and minority stroke patients than white stroke patients.
These mistakes cannot be explained by any medical difference between the symptoms of black or minority and white patients. Black patients are already at higher risk for stroke, so why aren’t doctors accurately diagnosing black patients who arrive in the ER with stroke-like symptoms? Whether it is an internal bias, or underrepresented populations appearing more likely to have non-traditional symptoms, more research into this issue is needed to find the causes of misdiagnosis in black patients to prevent more injuries and deaths.