Case in point: Last year on a flight from Detroit to Minneapolis, a passenger became unresponsive, and flight attendants called for medical help. But according to passenger Tamika Cross, a young African American obstetrician, when she offered to assist, she was told: “Oh no sweetie put [your] hand down,” and “we are looking for actual physicians or nurses.” Eventually, another doctor, an older white man, was allowed to help. Cross said she was waved off because she didn’t fit the flight attendant’s “description of a doctor.”
The problem here — apart from race and gender stereotyping — is that when a physician treats a patient in an emergency, every minute counts. And it raises the question: what did even the presumably short delay cost the sick passenger? If the older white male doctor hadn’t been on board, would Dr. Cross have been permitted to try to save the passenger’s life?