Bias In Medicine: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

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John Oliver discusses the roles that gender and racial bias can play in medical treatment.
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Published on


Aug 19, 2019




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Comments 18 756
Tygear 7 hours ago
You desperately need to see multiple doctors when you think something is wrong. There are way too many people who get bounced around from doctor to doctor only to find out three years later that ya there's a giant tumor, why didn't anyone actually do the work before? Doctors work very hard but it is incredibly easy to get lazy.
theflowerhead 9 hours ago
A woman AND young? Well fuuuck youh. Don't even get me started if it's physical pain they can't see. Don't even get me started if your skin rips open and starts leaking water that people will wait till your whole leg splits open to decide to help you, and a year and a half later you still have it and reopened a little bit because no one will listen to you what the problem is.
nunya business
nunya business 21 hour ago
It took me two hours to watch this 23 minute video because I have AT&T
Joshua George
just go israel we have supperior medical treatment.
Josh Beck
Josh Beck Day ago
Fuck I'm a white man and I'm always having to fight my doctors, my stepfather who is a vet is always fighting them. Its about advocating for yourself. This has saved my life on several occasions.
Michael Johnson
People don't want to believe it but this shit is intentional. Look at all the career politicians going along with all the racist policies being pushed now. There has been racist in government and big business quietly pushing there agendas for decades, they just don't care about being quiet about it anymore.
Michael Johnson
May have been the most respected profession but it's definitely not now. Many are honorable but many are also paid pharmaceutical company lackey's.
A Morris
A Morris Day ago
In my opinion doctors and cops are cut from the same mold.
ncislabrat Day ago
I'm a female and I can't tell you how many times I've gone to the hospital or the doctors and them say, "it's not blah blah blah, you're okay" "No. I'm not okay, I'm fucking bleeding out of my face holes, clearly that's something." I went to see a doctor because I had a menstrual cycle that lasted for months, I literally wouldn't stop bleeding. They diagnosed me with heavy bleeding, told me to go home.
Staple S
Staple S 2 days ago
At Texas Tech the nurses there go through “communications in nursing.” And they repeatedly go over bias in medicine and how it’s complete and utter bullshit. I know some amazing people from that course and I know that their patients are going to be lucky as hell, because they actually go through Bias training.
Eric Jourdain
Eric Jourdain 2 days ago
The audience's general silence on this one speaks volume.
What Ever
What Ever 2 days ago
I have chronic pain that started when I was 8 years old. I remember going to the doctors in third grade because for a couple of months I had episodes of stabbing pain in my chest that wasn’t help by pain meds and was bad enough that it made me lighted headed. I was ignored and I told I’d grew out of it. I still have these episodes years later. It’s the same story for the intense pain in my back and neck that started a little after the chest pain did. I told every doctor, nurse, and practitioner I saw that my pain felt like it started at my spine. But guess what they all did, ignored me and didn’t do anything to see if there was a problem with my spine. Turns out my spine is completely misaligned and is the cause of the pain in my chest, back and neck pain. I’ve also suffers for migraines for since I was 10. People didn’t believe me when I’d be curled up with my eyes shut, ears covered, and crying from the pain. I was a young female so I was obviously exaggerating when I said that I felt like my head was being repeatedly smashed by a rock. I’ve been told by medical goddamn professionals that I just had headache and was being dramatic. I’ve been in school countless times and gone to the nurse for a migraine and been told I was fine and to go back to class because I was being stupid. I was also in a situation a couple months ago where my body was eating itself alive and was told I was fine. My muscles weren’t absorbing nutrients and started eating themselves. I ended up going to the ER 10 times in a couple months because of intense pain. I couldn’t walk, it hurt to type, I would get tired by eating a proper meal, I passed out multiple times from pain. I was told I was being dramatic and that it was just hormones or some shit. When doctors finally fingered it out they think if it had taken longer (it’d been 5 months at this point) that it could have killed me. I was fucking dying and I was told I was being a drama queen. Sorry rant over. But seriously please believe people about their pain. A lot of people I know, especially females and POC don’t complain about pain until it gets really bad. I personally don’t start to complain until I start to get dizzy or lightheaded from the pain. Nothing hurts like being told you’re overreacting while inside you’re hoping that whatever this is kills you because it’s too much pain.
Cleo XO
Cleo XO 2 days ago
No cure for breast cancer. Complete cure for testicular cancer. Perhaps if more men got breast cancer, we'd have a cure.
TheNewbiedoodle 4 days ago
It was really nice to hear "here that means assigned male at birth" thrown in that casually. Thanks for helping to normalize trans people, Mr. Oliver. I sincerely appreciate that.
jojo dancer
jojo dancer 4 days ago
Another BS reason to blame white males.
Kristen B
Kristen B 4 days ago
We don’t matter as much as men do in this world.. fact.
Love Music
Love Music 4 days ago
When I was trying to get a diagnoses for what turned out to be lupus SLE I saw many doctors, all male. I was told I was hormonal, unhappy/depressed and, worst of all, one doctor told me I was a "malingering female".
Chuck Farley
Chuck Farley 4 days ago
Please. Bias against people of color. Bs. More along the lines of you dont get your way you drop the race card.
Samuel Rosander
Samuel Rosander 4 days ago
But remember, it's all FAKE NEWS by the DEEP STATE trying to race bait and turn us all into victims so that we'll vote Democrat. Nothing has any basis in fact. What you're seeing and hearing isn't what's happening. Truth isn't truth. I wish that was just a joke, but too many believe it, and too many argue that that's the case. We never "got over" a lot of things just because we passed a law, or just because we don't see it due to intentionally segregating ourselves. The delusional insanity of this puritanical, bigoted country is depressing, and has led me to believe that we deserve to be quarantined to this planet, and possibly wiped out to ensure we don't spread our infection.
theonerandomizer 4 days ago
Why do men die sooner than women if the care is so bad.
mack cummy
mack cummy 4 days ago
I'm a white male.
mack cummy
mack cummy 4 days ago
Wanda is annoying.
mack cummy
mack cummy 4 days ago
Men and women are different physically.
jess g.
jess g. 5 days ago
Great despite the Michael Jackson slander.
Willie Underwood
Willie Underwood 5 days ago
A lot of white doctors don't want to touch a black men or women. It is as simple as that. You call that build in discrimination from home. Sadsadsad
Neil Sreshta
Neil Sreshta 5 days ago
Hurts to hear and probably true in some ways. As a minority doctor who has worked and trained for 14 years and just got off a 50 hour stretch in 4 days in a chaotic ER - know that medicine is an art as much as a science. For every person who had a tragic miss there are many great saves and even a few who are misrepresenting their symptoms to get pain medicine. And some are just a misdiagnosis based on heuristic bias. I agree with the central thesis of this piece and fight back on treating minority patients any differently. But know that the vast majority of my colleagues and mentors love our patients. I certainly do.
Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq 5 days ago
we have too much biased in medical profession, however women still manage to out live men ....may be doctors care is not good for men.
Anonymous [26490]
Women living longer than men is a biological difference. Might be a little bit correlated by its a long shot
Moon Stars
Moon Stars 5 days ago
When i was in collage. i sat in on some med classes waiting for other courses. The professors were treated like gods and they were arrogant and they seemed programming and very biased. i am happy i didnt go to med school. I was an adult going into school with an understanding of the world the human body. I was appalled by the programming these kids experienced it was sickening. You could tell you could tell big pharma was completely imbued in there education. Also these kids were the most arrogant egotistical people out for money i have ever seen i was so scared to ever trust them
Moon Stars
Moon Stars 5 days ago
There is a test called troponin that should be ran in if you suspect a heart attack. They run 2 sets of these tests which can take 6 hours. if raised slightly can indicate blockage in your arteries. Make them run these tests before you leave. Please try to have a witness with you in a hospital at all times ask to speak to supervisors tell people that you will make there refusal to treat known publicly. Report all mean behaviors from nurses. Expect to be treated like badly sometimes in the hospital. Hospitals allow nurses to drink high quantities of high energy drinks that destroy there ability to be compassionate and actually make them shake with nervous problems. these nurses also are snappy, very dismissive, apathetic, and antagonistic. I dont want a nurse or dr on monster to be doing my spinal tapp that has been on there feet for 20 hrs this happens alot. If you must complement there egos and they might not judge you by your appearance and go the extra mile to help you. You are being judged by your appearance when you come to a hospital. you are antagonized when your pain is really bad and you cant be as nice as you would be normally, they will take you personally instead of showing understanding Report all the nurses you see coated with cologne or bath and body works lotion this proves there lack of respect for there patients and pulmonary issues they are also the ones that are careless and the inconsiderate ones who dont feel like have to care HIGH ENERGY DRINKS SHOULD BE BANNED FROM HOSPITALS. I wish everybody well
localhost 5 days ago
We had an autistic son in the 90s. My wife was brilliant with his needs. But we both had to go to all doctors strictly so I could echo her words. Wife: "You have to point to what you want him to look at" (Doctor ignores her) Me: "You have to point to what you want him to look at" (Doctor points)
I don’t understand this, I think I would feel more sympathetic towards a woman in pain than a man.
Marta Bagnoli
Marta Bagnoli 5 days ago
I think it's complicated. Who we (especially white people, who are more likely to be able to become doctors) have grown up thinking of and treating as 'real' 'deserving' or even 'innocent' victims didn't develop because independent individuals took the personal interactions they had with each other and created a culture that fairly reflected them-- most interactions aren'tare complicated by inherited inequalities, just like who gets to tell their own stories. For example, the idea of black people feeling less pain has always been a convenient one for people who see and privelige from slavery and its legacies, but feel uncomfortable facing up to the ramifications of that, and the extent of their personal complicity. Even if white people don't explicitly agree with whatever is the unacceptable face of racism in their time (a low bar) and can't articulate why, facing up to the full humanity of people whose suffering you are benefitting from is uncomfortable. Whereas white women are more likely to be seen as precious and delicate, but at the same time unreliable, and not fully able to understand or control their feelings and behavior-- which means someone might trust their symptoms more if a man, especially an older male relative, literally speaks for them-- even if in other contexts it means they are treated more favourably. Sorry this was so long-- it's just nuance can be hard to find sometimes ( even in the categorisations I've used in this rant) and your comment seemed important to me.
emily 6 days ago
BMI is the perfect example of a broken and antiquated system that all doctors use that is racist and sexist and also wildly inaccurate in predicting health outcomes and doesn't even account for subcutaneous fat, muscle mass, body type, doesn't work the same for short people and tall people, over estimates health risks for Black people and underestimates them for Asian people. And it's still used everyone. Even though it wasn't even invented by a scientist, nor someone trying to measure health. It's an added bonus if you are a woman with have a stigmatized mental diagnosis attached to your name. Sometimes then they don't think you have a breast lump and perhaps you're just paranoid or attention seeking, even though your partner and you have both find it, so they gloss over the exam and won't even tell you your finding before talking about your mental health (not relevant, doing just fine thanks) and you have to interrupt them to ask if you have cancer. Then you come back a month later and they want to talk about your mental health before anything, but you demand the follow up breast exam first, because the appointment was made for that and your mental health is just fine outside the fact that you are frustrated by your disrespectful doctor, and WHOOPS. If I was a PoC perhaps they wouldn't have even done the breast exam at all, and sent me home with midol. Sorry, personal trauma currently happening. Thanks for making me laugh about it :D
Undot 6 days ago
Not trying to be an ass about this, medical bias is a truly important topic. But I got a buddy in radiology, administering hundreds of injections a year. He told me a while back, and because of this clip I asked about it again. In his experience black skin is very noticably harder to pierce with a needle. So that's the one issue I got with this video. Not saying anything about it being a reason for administering less pain meds. Definitely shouldn't be! But the skin being tougher doesn't seem to be a bias. "Black don't crack" gotta come from somewhere, no? I trust John Oliver and his research team a lot. They do incredible work! But that's why this particular bit of information irks me even more.
Holly Wendel
Holly Wendel 6 days ago
Had a Heart Attack for a week with multiple visits to the ER. Sister had the same thing happen two years prior. Native America women are at the Highest Risk for death during childbirth in the U.S.. with the average age of death for ALL Natives being age 58. So much is wrong with our Healthcare System.
planetary ray
planetary ray 6 days ago
I (a woman) got really sick when I was 15 with nonstop stomach pain. After a long time w no diagnosis, finally went to the ER. Was told by my male doctor that teenage girls tend to exaggerate their pain, and was prescribed antidepressants. Turns out my gallbladder had stopped working, had it removed and been fine ever since. I have zero trust in doctors
Qino this is the most important Qino
Please turn up volume on all these videos please turn up volume on all these videos please turn up volume on all these videos please turn up volume on all these videos please
Ubenwarf 7 days ago
I understand that these biases are an extreme issue, but I feel that there is some reasonability to using men in scientific research. While I believe that women should still be included, I think they should be apart of a separate study. Correct me if I am wrong, but if there truly is a hormonal difference between sexes, this can vastly change outcomes of studies. To say it differently, I feel that with the introduction of hormones into medical studies can reduce the accuracy of results, so IF men truly do have less hormones present they may be able to provide a more accurate base line for medical studies whose results can be better developed with testing involving females
eleonar crimson
eleonar crimson 6 days ago
Bro that is the main reason u should include them because only men's experiment won't include the effects on different anatomy, like you said, involvement of hormones won't be accurate for women.
Paul TheSkeptic
Paul TheSkeptic 7 days ago
I'm a white guy who was just in hospital. They gave me morphine, IV... I can see who people like it. It was VERY refreshing to say the least.
KadieJ501 7 days ago
It's about the same if you're viewed as "mentally ill". A lot of people have major bias towards depression and anxiety
CJ Borchers
CJ Borchers 7 days ago
You know, after I graduate I think I'll visit the US to do some volunteer work, maybe help a food drive or two... I think everyone should visit a third world country at least once in their lifetime, it's just good for the soul
Judy Anderson
Judy Anderson 7 days ago
If I could like the video on Medicare for all a hundred times, I would. I have thought this for years! Also regarding this video, as an older woman I feel like my symptoms are dismissed as just complaints by an old lady. Sometimes they send me for what I believe is a shut her up x-ray for which I never hear the results.
Wubba Wubba
Wubba Wubba 7 days ago
My male doctor almost killed me and my baby via negligence when I developed Eclampsia when I was pregnant with my son. Eclampsia is high blood pressure in pregnancy and it can lead to seizures, stroke and death. My blood pressure got so high that I started having seizures and had a stroke. The only way to stop eclamptic seizures is to perform a c/section which I had when I was 7 months pregnant. Every time I went to my doctor or to the hospital because I had such a bad migraine because my BP was deathly high, my doctor refused to treat me and sent me home. The last time was the day before I had a stroke and started seizing. He had the audacity to try to see me when I was in the ICU. I started screaming for the nurses to have him removed because he almost killed me and my baby and was no longer my doctor. He didn’t like that but I didn’t give a shit.
MANOS MANOS 7 days ago
All the comments out here attacking white male physicians.Some may be actuall fuckers, but there are some good ones out there aswell
Aryna Preis Bevan
Love this. So true.
Marnee Pinch
Marnee Pinch 7 days ago
I went to the ER having my one and only severe asthma attack. I also was having serious cramping of every muscle. My hands cramped so hard, I fell out of the chair in the ER. If I'd been stronger, I think I would have broken my own wrists, my hands were bent so far. Can't they give you albuterol immediately, even if they don't do a more thorough exam until later? Maybe it was because I walked in because we lived just blocks from the Hospital so my son drove. He would have called an ambulance otherwise. The asthma let up fairly quickly inside the hospital (was likely an allergic reaction), but otherwise, what could have happened? My son started yelling for someone to help when I fell on the floor with the worst cramps. They yelled at me and said I couldn't lay on the floor! I couldn't remain upright. Then they said I was hyperventilating, as if that were an emotional condition, not due to the asthma. How are you not supposed to hyperventilate when you can't take more than a spoonful of air at a time? You start to breath faster! But as it turns out, the blood work showed low potassium. (I'd worked for 6 hours in the yard that day.) Low potassium is serious, but they didn't tell me. I didn't find out until I came back with a follow-up on something unrelated. In the ER, they treated me like it was "hysterics". Took 5 hours before they saw me, which is fine if they had like gunshot wounds or something like, but they should be ready with a squirt of albuterol. We would have left by then, but my son thought it was against the law for some reason to leave the ER once you arrived. Next time, I'll just lay down at home and hope I don't die.
Daan Overveld
Daan Overveld 7 days ago
7:08 Poor Dan...
Tweak Heir
Tweak Heir 9 days ago
First of all, we now know men have hormonal cycles too that affect their emotions, and a lot of shit. And they happen everyday. Women have a once a month cycle, men have a daily cycle. Fucking idiot. When I was 15, I went to the hospital with horrible, horrible pain in my pelvic, they left me there for a full 45 minutes. Nobody came in to see me, I was crying and they only gave me medicine when I started to vomit ALL over the floor from the pain and my mom and dad demanded they do something. Turned out I had a really fucked up infection. Only when I puked all over their precious floors is when they came to give me tests and medicine. When my fiance had similar symptoms and he had to go they were in there within seconds to help him. It was always dead empty both times we went so they weren't busy, they just made men the priority. This is why I laugh whenever men claim to be the "protectors" of women.
eleonar crimson
eleonar crimson 6 days ago
Bruh no one cares about a random Dede on internet writing some shit about his "life", facts don't care about your feelings. At least you are alive, say that to those who lost their life because of this misleading information and if you think the hormonal cycle of men and women are different both in severity and type. So... I feel bad for you though, if it is a true story.
Kurt Moyst
Kurt Moyst 10 days ago
ace inhibitors don't work as well in black people than they do in white people. or maybe that's racist...
Taylor Last Name N/A
while visiting utah, i drove one of my best friends to the doctor for what sounded like appendicitis or a kidney stone. the male doctor told her it was just gas and that she could maybe possibly on the off chance have a kidney stone and wouldn't do any imaging because it would "hurt her fertile young pelvis" (verbatim!!!!). she passed a kidney stone a week later. likewise, also in salt lake, i went to urgent care for a sinus infection (chronic, got them 4-7 times a year), and the doctor who had never met me before told me he didn't see why i wouldn't try amoxicillin and wrote a note on my mychart allergies that i gave an unreliable history.
The Chaotic Muffin
The Chaotic Muffin 13 days ago
As someone living in a country where 80% of the doctors are indian, I feel like it should be safe to say patients here aren't necessarily misjudged just for their skin colour. But I can't help but wonder if there's still racial discrimination in the medical field here in other forms.
Meh 14 days ago
This is 2020. Doctors take NO pain seriously anymore.
DowskiVision MagicalOracle
Wanda Sykes needs bias training.
DowskiVision MagicalOracle
All respect for John Oliver lost after this.
Quagthistle 16 days ago
I speak from experience (oh, so MUCH experience!) in saying that nothing gets doctors to pull their head out of that giant black hole of stupidity medical school seems to create around them. It's impossible. It can't be done. You can cry and plead. They berate and ignore you. You can be logical and make perfectly reasoned arguments. They ignore you and act offended. You can get angry. They ignore you and berate you. You can complain to their boss, who will ignore you and talk about what a great guy Dr. So-and-so is (yeah, it's pretty much always a guy, though women doctors usually aren't all that much better). And, if you have a rare medical condition, even worse one they can't Google, then kiss all your hopes good-bye and abandon yourself to either being murdered by the ER (typically in some horribly painful way) or dying of natural causes at home. Those are your options. Pick one (and write a will). The doctors will not help you because they do NOT care. It doesn't matter if you are fairly wealthy or dirt poor. It *does* matter if you are, and I quote "just an emotional woman" as opposed to a "strong man". Heaven help you if you are physically disabled (then you get treated like garbage) or mentally disabled (in which case they get treated like they do not even exist). I have been to dozens of doctors in 7 different US states, and I'm pretty sure I've heard every excuse for not doing their job (but still charging you a fortune) that a person could be slapped over the head with. I have no advice, but I CAN tell you that flipping over a table to get the nurses attention would have simply got you arrested, and then you wouldn't even have been able to have a funeral for your wife. Then, they would have blamed her not getting the care she needed on your "misbehavior". No matter what you do, the doctors' stupidity, apathy, and cruelty is always "your fault". You cannot reason with them. You cannot force them to do anything. The only solution, in my opinion, is to remove from the doctors their special priviledged powers over medications and treatments until they learn to behave like adults, which I doubt will EVER happen.
BaraZulu 17 days ago
My doctor's Black. Checkmate.
Chiquinho Malvado
Chiquinho Malvado 18 days ago
Honestly, as a Latino and Hispanic, i’ve never seen or had opioids 😂 Ibuprofen and Vics are my medicine MVP’s every year
Katie Oberst
Katie Oberst 18 days ago
I'm a white woman with chronic back pain and because I'm treated so horribly in the hospital, I don't go to the ER anymore if my pain gets worse. It nearly killed me 6 years ago when the pain was due to pancreatitis. The pancreatitis turned into SIRS and three of my organ systems failed. By the time my dad drove me to the ER (with me still unsure if I should go), my kidneys had already failed. My problems are bad enough, I feel so much sympathy for black people that aren't even treated as "well" as I am!!
Joe Schmoe
Joe Schmoe 22 days ago
The majority of the USA is white and the majority of the poor people in the USA are white. This is fact.
Joe Schmoe
Joe Schmoe 22 days ago
John Oliver sowing the victimization of non white people. This has to stop. Poor people of ANY color experience bias. ALL white people aren't angelic creatures that never experience pain and receive extroidinary care by the medical community. This has to stop.
Prince Seokjin
Prince Seokjin 22 days ago
I started my period at 14, and immediately it was extremely heavy, I had terrible cramps, awful mood swings, and they lasted for over a week (the average period lasts 3-5 days). I thought that maybe it was just because it was the first one, and sometimes they can be heavier. But no, they just kept being like that, and lasting anywhere from 7-12 days with all of the same symptoms. I had to change my tampon every hour or so, and I would still bleed onto chairs at school. It was a mess. I finally went on birth control to try and regulate them, but they were still pretty bad, so I went on continuous birth control so I don’t get them at all, and that changed my life. But from the beginning I was just told by my mom that “yeah, this is how bad my periods were too” and same for her mom, my sister, and my dad’s mom. We all just accepted it because we were told by doctors that our periods are just bad and that’s that. I only found out last year, when I started seeing a different gynecologist, that the reason they’re so severe is because I have a bleeding disorder, Von Willebrand disease, and PMDD (though we had known that part before seeing this new gynecologist). Literally no other doctor besides this one had thought to run tests on me even though my periods were very abnormal and indicated further health problems. In fact, most women with Von Willebrand disease don’t find out they have it until they start having periods which are almost always very severe. Luckily, the best treatment for it is birth control, which I was coincidentally already on. Birth control already comes with the risk of blood clots, because it raises your Von Willebrand factor in your blood, which is coincidentally the factor I don’t have enough of. But it’s still baffling to me that no one ever thought to try and figure out the cause of the terrible periods that literally every woman in my family had, because it’s just assumed that periods suck and you have to deal with it.
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