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Introduction: Dealing with racist patients is not uncommon, and these interactions can sever the therapeutic alliance, as well as leave providers feeling isolated, dehumanized, and ashamed. Investigation of published recommendations for handling these situations can give victims, peers, and institutions the tools necessary to prepare, protect, and support providers through these challenging encounters.

Methods: This paper is a literature review. For inclusion in this review, studies must have met the criteria of providing recommendations for healthcare providers or institutions on how to deal with racist patients. Excluded articles did not include recommendations on how to handle such situations or did not otherwise meet inclusion criteria. PubMed Medline was searched in January 2022 using a combination of the following keywords and associated MeSH terms: “Racism” AND “Physician-Patient relations”. The resulted articles then underwent forward and backward citation searching. A total of 44 articles were included after evaluation of 272 articles via this process.

Results: For the affected individual, recommended responses include addressing the comment firmly and directly in real time, setting boundaries and behavior expectation, reporting the incident to supervisors and to the hospital, and seeking support from peers and/or professionals. At the peer level, core practices are supporting the victim, addressing the patient if necessary, debriefing with the victim and team, and checking-in with the victim in the following days. At the institution level, core practices are enacting reporting system and tracking incidents, developing specific policies and procedures about biased patients, and training staff with focused antibias and antidiscrimination sessions.

Discussion: There are steps to be taken at every level to create a supportive and inclusive practice that protects providers against racist patients. One limitation of this study was that it was not a systematic review so there may be other recommendations published that are not reflected here.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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