Thursday, December 14, 2017

IV. How to Think About the Accommodation of Patients' Racial Preferences

      Accommodating patients' racial preferences with respect to their choice of physician is an important and enduring practice in the hospital context. Part II demonstrated that EMTALA, along with deeply rooted norms of informed consent and battery, makes clear that there are valid reasons to accommodate. I have also shown that existing antidiscrimination law does not prohibit the practice. As I describe in this Part, however, there are also troubling aspects of indulging patients' racial biases. Thus, we are faced with the fundamental dilemma of how to reconcile these troubling aspects with respect for patient autonomy and the empirical reality that accommodating patients' racial preferences appears to foster positive health outcomes.

      This Part engages this dilemma. Building on the empirical evidence introduced in Part III, this Part makes an affirmative case for accommodating patients' racial preferences with respect to their choice of physician but acknowledges that there are also disadvantages to indulging such requests. This Part addresses the disturbing facets of this practice and concludes by proposing policy solutions designed to alleviate the need for accommodation.

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