Patient bias forum offers insight into protecting providers

A request from a patient to her provider sparked a policy change at Penn State Health and a nationwide conversation. In 2016, a patient’s daughter and caregiver asked Dr. Hyma Polimera, an internist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, if they could have a new doctor — one who is “American.”

That request led Penn State Health to establish an official anti-bias policy that prohibits patients from declining a provider based on the provider’s race, religion, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine shared the impact of this policy and future steps with 25 organizations from across the country in a forum, “Protecting Providers from Patient Bias,” held Aug. 31 at the University Conference Center in Hershey.

Dr. Craig Hillemeier, College of Medicine dean, Penn State Health CEO and Penn State senior vice president for health affairs, discussed the business case for protecting providers from patient discrimination following opening remarks by Lynette Chappell-Williams, chief diversity officer and associate dean of diversity and inclusion for Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the College of Medicine.

Dr. Brian McGillen, director of hospital medicine at Hershey Medical Center, and Capt. Charmagne Beckett of Walter Reed National Medical Center explained how health systems can develop a similar anti-bias policy.

Emily Whitgob of Stanford University College of Medicine discussed the impact of patient discrimination on trainee populations. Karen Smith of Henry Ford Health System shared an algorithm for identifying when to honor requests for provider changes, and Uche Blackstock of New York University College of Medicine shared training programs to assist those who have experienced patient bias.

David Acosta, chief diversity officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges, facilitated the forum discussion and concluded the day with identifying future plans to protect medical students, trainees and providers from patient bias.

September 11, 2018 Penn State College of Medicine News

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