Updated: Apr 1, 2021
African American women are treated poorly by the healthcare industry in several ways. According to this Harvard article, America is failing its Black Mothers: "The CDC now estimates that 700 to 900 new and expectant mothers die in the U.S. each year, and an additional 500,000 women experience life-threatening postpartum complications." "More than half of these deaths and near-deaths are from preventable causes, and a disproportionate number of the women suffering are black."
Ms. Castille was overlooked by doctors, almost resulting in her death from a severe heart attack. Although African-Americans suffer from heart disease and obesity more than other races, one of Ms. Castille's doctors thought her weight was to blame for her heart issues, but it was not. It's troubling to think, what if Ms. Castille had not advocated for herself? It is a strong possibility she may have died. But what about those black women that do not advocate for themselves and trust their doctor's dismissal of their symptoms to their detriment?
How pervasive is this issue, where black women's pain symptoms are dismissed by medical providers resulting in their deaths? In our survey conducted in December 2021, 45% of our respondents stated they knew a black woman that passed away or whose life was endangered due to their symptoms and health complaints being ignored by medical provider(s). Although slightly less than half, 45% is still a staggering number.
However, the bigger question is: "How can doctors prevent African-American women seeking care from dying?". How many more black women have to die before we make a change in our American healthcare industry that truly reflects how much black lives matter?