Case Study 1 :
Lamar Johnson, a thirty-three-year-old African American patient had been deemed a “frequent flyer” (a term used to describe those who keep coming to the hospital for the same reason, often assumed to be drug seekers) by the nurses and doctors in the emergency department. Each time he came in complaining of extreme headaches he was given pain medication and sent home. On this last admission, he was admitted to the ICU, where Courtney, a nurse, had just begun working. When she heard him described as a frequent flyer, she asked another nurse why he was thought to be a drug seeker, She was told, “He has nothing else better to do: Im not sure why he thinks we can supply his drug habits.” Alhough Courtney says her instincts told her that sornething else was going on, she saw his tattoos, observed his rough demeanor, and went along with what everyone else was saying.
At this point, what would you be inclined to believe or do? What may be a better way to handle the situation?
While she was wheeling him to gat a CT scan, Mr. Johnson herriated and died it turned out that he had a rare form of meningitis and truly was suffering from severe headaches. If some of the staff had not stereotyped him as a drug seeker on one of his earfier visits, perhaps his life could have been saved. This incident left a lasting impression on Courtney.
What are your thoughts on this case study? What factors listed under “Causes of Health Disparities” on page 604 do you think this touchos on?