Yet another secretly-filmed viral clip emerges of an emergency physician and a patient in conflict.

Donald Bardwell, the patient’s father, videotaped an interaction between the treating emergency physician and his son. Claiming the ER doctor was racist, this video quickly went viral.

“This is how they treat black people in the Los Gatos Emergency Room.”

The ER doctor is seen trying to pull the patient by his arm up to a sitting position to prove that he could actually move, pointing out that despite his complaint of not being able to move or even inhale, his oxygen saturation was 100%, and he was ready for discharge. She states in the clip,

“You know, you are the least sick person in here. There are people dying in this emergency department.”

How do we avoid treating patients as “patterns” instead of people?

The problem with this video (and many like it that have been posted before) is that we have no context about the situation. What behavior did the patient show prior to the clip, and did it trigger a pattern recognition in the doctor that was concerning for manipulation and “drug seeking?” Remember Blank Script??

We’ve contributed to the creation of this problem with opioid and benzodiazepine overuse, and now so much time, effort, and emotional energy are spent in medical settings trying to determine: does this patient have a real problem, real pain or illness? Or is this dependence/addiction/manipulation? This is the opioid epidemic in action. As physicians we rely on pattern recognition to help us. The problem with patterns is that they are not always easy to differentiate, and the constant struggle wears us down until some of us snap.

Is this racism?

These type of patterns are present in all races, ages, and circumstances. There are prejudiced assumptions happening on all sides of this. In the comments of the original video, people are talking about the ER doctor’s tattoo, her weight, and are assuming she is a nurse because she is female. The answer is nuanced (and I give my take in the video).

ZPac, this is your call to action. Weigh in, politely and professionally. Check out the original episode on Facebook and tell us what you think. Comment and please share, it helps grow our movement more thank you know!