Mothers of Color Can’t See if Providers Have a History of Mistreatment. Why Not?

by | Oct 6, 2023 | Health

When Selam Solomon Caldwell and her husband learned she was pregnant last year, the stakes for finding the right OB-GYN felt high. Caldwell, a Black woman, had heard stories from family and friends of maternity care providers who ignored their requests or pressured them into cesarean sections without clear medical justification.

As a relative newcomer to Los Angeles, the recruiter, now 31, knew few Black people who could recommend doctors who had treated them with respect. She combed review sites, including Google reviews and Healthgrades, but couldn’t find how nearby physicians and hospitals might treat a Black woman like her.

“It’s hard to tell if it’s a fellow Black person who’s giving the review,” Caldwell said.

Consumer ratings sites rarely identify patient experiences by race or ethnicity and hospitals are under no obligation to reveal the racial and ethnic breakdowns of their patient satisfaction scores. Yet that information could be instrumental in holding maternity care providers and hospitals accountable for treating patients inequitably and could empower expectant mothers like Caldwell in finding quality obstetric care.

“You can’t change what you don’t see,” said Kimberly Seals Allers, founder of Irth, an app allowing Black and brown women to find and leave reviews of maternity care providers. She’s one of a few entrepreneurs developing new tools for collecting feedback from mothers of color …

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