Asian-American Doctor: White Nationalists Refuse Treatment From Me

“We've got a lot of white nationalists in Oregon. So a few times a year, a patient in the ER refuses treatment from me because of my race.”

An Asian-American doctor, who has practiced medicine for more than a decade, says there have been multiple incidents when patients refused treatment from her because of her race.

Esther Choo is a faculty member in the department of emergency medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University's School of Medicine in Portland, Oregon. She shared her experience in a long Twitter thread where she noted there were “a lot of racists in Oregon.”

“We've got a lot of white nationalists in Oregon. So a few times a year, a patient in the ER refuses treatment from me because of my race,” she wrote.


“The conversation usually goes like this. Me: ‘I understand your viewpoint. I trained at elite institutions & have been practicing for 15 years. You are welcome to refuse care under my hands, but I feel confident that I am the most qualified to care for you. Especially since the alternative is an intern.’ And they invariably pick the intern, as long as they are white. Or they leave,” she said.

In the concluding tweet she said, “I used to cycle through disbelief, shame, anger. Now I just show compassion and move on. I figure the best thing I can do is make sure their hate finds no purchase here.”


Choo’s comments came shortly after violent Charlottesville rally, where a white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at an "alt-right" rally and, killed a 32-year-old paralegal, Heather Heyer.

While talking to CNN, Choo said, “What I'm hearing from my colleagues is that this is a daily occurrence for many of them, at least experiences of prejudice. The patient who outright refuses care is less common, but I definitely heard from a lot of people this week that they have also had that exact same experience. Maybe it's that they're from another country or because of their religious beliefs or their sexual orientation or their gender. But I'm hearing it from a lot of physicians that this is not unusual.”

“A few times I've been able to talk patients into receiving care from me. Or we can negotiate some sort of compromise where they will be seen by maybe a resident physician, who is white, and I'm still guiding care, but I don't actually enter the room. Usually you cannot. I've found in my experience that you cannot talk people out of their ideology,” Choo added.

It is terrifying to think such systemic racism is not only eroding our society but people are ready to risk their lives, and even at a point where crucial life and death decisions have to be made, these racists think about the race of the doctor who is about to treat them.


Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Reuters

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