The Disparity of Black Women in American Healthcare

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

On April 17, 2020, a woman by the name Amber Rose Isaac posted what would be her final tweet regarding her experience in a New York City hospital, referring to the doctors caring for her as “incompetent”.

According to her partner, Bruce McIntyre, Isaac, a soon to be first-time mother, did not believe that she would survive her delivery. Throughout her pregnancy, her platelet levels had steadily decreased. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, Isaac was only able to meet with doctors through video chats rather than being seen in person despite being seven months pregnant. It was not until her condition worsened that she was able to finally be admitted into the hospital. Amber had developed hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count, otherwise known as HELLP syndrome, and would days later pass away after giving birth to her son.

The story of Amber Rose Isaac is not an uncommon one, particularly as it relates to African-American women in the healthcare system. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in comparison to their white counterparts, “black women in the United States are over three times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes.” In New York City alone, between 2006 and 2010, black women were 12 times more likely to die from pregnancy related complications than white women. A national study of the five most common causes of maternal death showed that black women were “two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition.” What is most unfortunate about these studies, is that many of these deaths are preventable, according to the CDC.

Studies have shown that healthcare providers tend to spend less time with African-American patients and are less likely to take their concerns and complaints seriously. When patients voice their concerns, many ar