Here's an interesting article: Report: Minorities Shortchanged in Health Care Wed Mar 20, 3:31 PM ET By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities in the United States tend to get lower quality health care than whites, even when income, age and whether they have insurance is factored in, a report said on Wednesday. Doctors, pressed for time and pressured to make hasty decisions by insurance companies, often stereotype patients and minorities can pay for this with their lives, according to a report by the Institute of Medicine (news - web sites) which was commissioned by the U.S. Congress. "Stereotyping, biases and uncertainty on the part of health-care providers can all contribute to unequal treatment," it said. "Relative to whites, African-Americans -- and in some cases Hispanics -- are less likely to receive appropriate cardiac medication or to undergo coronary artery bypass surgery, are less likely to receive hemodialysis and kidney transplantation and are likely to receive a lower quality of basic clinical services," the report said, citing several studies. "Significantly, these differences are associated with greater mortality among African-American patients." The report, written by 15 experts and reviewed by a panel of 11 others, also found minorities do not get optimal treatment for HIV (news - web sites) and AIDS (news - web sites), now the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. Well-meaning doctors, nurses and other health-care providers may not believe they are biased, but make assumptions about minority patients, including Asians and Native Americans, based on race or ethnicity, the report found. "We cannot rely on the good intentions of health-care providers," David Williams, a professor at the University of Michigan and a member of the committee that issued the report, told a news conference. "Racism is a major culprit in the mix of health disparities, and has had a devastating impact on African Americans," Dr. Lucille Perez, president of the National Medical Association, which represents minority doctors, said in a statement. HARRIED DOCTORS MAKE ASSUMPTIONS Health-care providers often assume blacks or other minorities will not take their medications properly, but it could be simply a lack of communication is to blame, said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, senior vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey. "Physicians and other health-care providers are more comfortable interacting with people like themselves, that is, highly educated and articulate," Mourey said. "Even when they have as good insurance, the evidence suggests they don't have as good care," she added. The report recommended first that health-care providers, the public and insurers be made aware of the disparities. It cited surveys showing most Americans believe minorities get the same quality of health care as white Americans do. "A few studies have found that minority patients refuse recommended treatments more often than whites," said the Institute, one of the National Academies of Sciences. But it found that differences in refusal rates were small and did not fully account for racial and ethnic disparities. Overuse by white patients of some services did not explain the disparities either. The report also recommended the federal government step up support and funding of the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services (news - web sites). "The agency is charged with enforcing laws that prohibit discrimination in health care, but in recent years funding has been insufficient to adequately investigate complaints," it said. More minority doctors should be trained and medical schools should add training in dealing with people whose first language is not English or who do not come from mainstream cultures. Translators should be available to doctors working with people who do not speak English well, it added. "This report is not just for the American public," said Williams. "It is in fact a wake-up call for the entire health-care community. This report clearly documents that the playing field is not level."