Nurse sues hospital over "No African-American nurse" note by request from baby's racist dad

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150 Responses to “Nurse sues hospital over "No African-American nurse" note by request from baby's racist dad”

  1. Antinous / Moderator says:

    On my various floors, the head nurse would have walked into the room, told the patient and her family how it worked and asked if they wanted transport to another hospital.

  2. Robin M says:

    Why sue the hospital for this? I mean, that’s rough, but is it the hospital’s fault?

    • Ted Hurley says:

      By placing that instruction in the chart it is.  The man has a right to make such a request, the hospital does not have the right to follow it.

      • dawdler says:

        I’m not sure the fact that the note was placed in the chart is violating any laws.  (Might be…)

        But the fact that (according to the WNEM report linked) the hospital actually re-assigned the baby to another nurse after the request does seem like it might violate racial discrimination laws.  So it does seem (to my untrained eye) that the hospital did, in fact, engage in racial discrimination.

        • C W says:

          “I’m not sure the fact that the note was placed in the chart is violating any laws.”

          I suppose some person at some point down the line agreed that it was institutional endorsement of discriminatory practices.

          •  You may argue CW…does not violate any laws…etc.
            Becos you dont understand the legalities about the patient chart.
            There are certain designated authorities that ONLY are allowed to make entries, alter, edit, etc., into the patient chart. Not any nurse…or who ever can do that. Physicians certainly can do that.
            But any other, are bound by the protocol of care prescribed in the chart. Its intentional harm done to the patient to deviate from that protocol, and you are legally liable and answerable, should you think to do so.

            So this Racist instruction in the chart had official sanction from designated authorities within the management structure at the the said Hospital.

            And consequences should rightly so, follow.

        • Boris Bartlog says:

           The note was apparently posted to the assignment clipboard, i.e. the hospital acted on the patient’s demand. That’s clearly over the line. Now, if they had merely noted in the medical record that the patient made this request (but didn’t act on it), then I think they’d be in the clear. Probably. Even then it seems like a dubious thing to set to paper, but it could be defended as a way of letting future caretakers know what sort of problems they might encounter.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          I’m not sure the fact that the note was placed in the chart is violating any laws.

          I’ve worked in hospitals.  I’ve also worked in real estate.  Non-discrimination laws are quite clear about not doing shit like this.  This is no different than a real estate agent taking out an ad that says the the seller only wants white buyers.

        • Warren_Terra says:

          The point may be that the note doesn’t say “the father strongly prefers no Black nurses should tend to his child”, it says “no Black nurses should tend to this child”. The hospital has effectively endorsed and adopted the father’s racism.

          • Halloween_Jack says:

             Really, if they were going to do it up right, it should have gone something like, “The father asked that no African-American nurses tend to his child; staff explained that this was against hospital policy.”

          • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

            I suspect this was a case of “this guy is making this request so this is what you are dealing with.”  A heads up in other words.

          • C W says:

            “I suspect this was a case of “this guy is making this request so this is what you are dealing with.”  A heads up in other words.”

            Someone assumed that your guess would be ok.

            And that was a hideous fuck up.

          • dragonfrog says:

            A non-discriminaory note might have read:  “Father has already been told racist outbursts will not be tolerated.  If you feel he has crossed the line into harassment, call security to have him removed from the premises.”

      • The Chemist says:

        We keep all sorts of notes on file in the hospital. “PITA” being one of the more ill-advised things to put on there that I’ve seen. If someone was a racist jerk, we’d put a note in about that if for no other reason than to serve as a warning to our staff members. We had an Asian staff member get abuse from a patient once (can’t go too much into details because of HIPAA) and we did put in the file that the patient didn’t like Asians. Didn’t stop us from sending him there (although I’m sure if he’d complained we would have sent someone else) but it was on file.

        EDIT -CLARIFICATION:

        There’s a difference between a note being an instruction and being a note in the general sense of the word. In my story, it’s the second, not the first.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          The answer is a SOAP note.
          S:  Patient is a racist fuck.
          O:  Patient requested no African-American caregivers.
          A:  Patient is a racist fuck.
          P:  Patient’s request ignored, referred to nursing supervisor, Incident Report completed.

          • retepslluerb says:

            While I absolutely agree with your SOAP, I’m curious about how this would work with gender. Could an American patient, for example, request that only a nurse of the same gender could help him or her bathe? Or an American suspect that any officer frisking him or her would have to be of an appropriate combination of sexual orientation and gender?

          • C W says:

            “I’m curious about how this would work with gender.”

            Women preferring female nurses for the purposes of privacy would not be discrimination, so apples to oranges.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            You can ask. Staff would verbally convey your preference from nurse to nurse during inter-shift report. But if it’s turned into a written instruction, it’s a lot closer to creating an agreement in which the hospital may be unable to provide you with care because there’s no one around who fits your choice. What hospital would agree to that?

        •  Its NONE of patient rights to be RACIST. If one foolishly chooses to be, let them go elsewhere, where the slime is tolerated. Period. Not Here.

      • Snowlark says:

        It depends on how the patient’s words were recorded. Daily documentation of a patient’s demeanour and expression (verbal on non-verbal) is part of being a thorough nurse. But you’re right, obviously someone didn’t do that here. They just forwarded the patient’s words as an instruction to staff. Big mistake.

        • lafave says:

           The patient’s request? The patient was a newborn in the neonatal ICU. The patient’s request was “waaahhh”

          The patient’s father’s request was noted.

          • nachoproblem says:

            As it turns out, the patient’s father’s request was also “Waaahhh.”

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Well, that makes me wonder exactly how they got to the hospital.

          • Snowlark says:

            About an hour ago, I was reaching into the freezer for some frozen yogurt, when it hit me: the patient is the infant. I read both articles and the first three pages of the lawsuit. What the hell is wrong with me?

          • Wreckrob8 says:

            The bill payer’s request.

          • AnthonyC says:

            Why would an insurance company, or the parents’ employer(s) who probably pay >1/2 of their premiums, make such a request?
            /snark

      • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

         Just to play devil’s advocate, would it have been acceptable for , say, a woman to say “only a female doctor may examine me”?  Wouldn’t that fall under sexual discrimination?

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          If you make a doctor’s appointment, you pick your own doctor. If you’re admitted to the hospital, you sign a bunch of papers agreeing that you can be poked at by a variety of people.

          • blueelm says:

            Yeah, to be honest, I can’t recall anyone ever asking me what I prefer at a hospital… nor really being in a place to complain. IME typically when you’re in a hospital you pretty much are willing to do anything to fix whatever sent you to the hospital.

            I think what is probably missing when people are comparing here is that this is the *father* who made the request. It’s a lot easier to be hung up on those things when you’re not really the person requiring the hospital staff.

        • C W says:

          No, preference in that case is not discrimination.

          •  Really C.W.? Why is it any different to discriminate when it’s based on what’s between your legs than what colour your skin is?

            In most countries with anti-discrimination policies, they extend broadly to gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.

            As a male physician working in obstetrics I get this kind of crap from time to time, with entitled patients expecting that I call another doctor in from home in the middle of the night just because, even though when they became a patient of our group it was explained that male and female physicians work there and whoever is on call when baby decides it’s time is the doctor they get.

            There are cases where families have refused the staff physician entry to the room because he was male, even though baby was stuck (look up ‘shoulder dystocia’) and had a high chance of dying / being permanently brain damaged without expert assistance (which is exactly what happened).

            It is discrimination. It hurts providers, and the patients (usually the infant the most, which is sad since they have very little voice in the situation).

          • blueelm says:

            Wow! I really can’t imagine that. I wonder if that begins to cross into the line where it meets up with people who refuse blood transfusions, or people who will not take any kind of medication.

          • C W says:

            “In most countries with anti-discrimination policies, they extend broadly to gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.”
            I’m at least not intending to be a jerk here, I know nothing of being a male nurse, so how are such requests handled by the staff? I’d appreciate the enlightenment.

          • Angela Meyerhoff says:

            As a woman, me asking that I have a female doctor do my annual exam is not discrimination. I’m not discriminating against any male doctor because I think he’s incompetent, it’s a matter of my comfort level. I would feel uncomfortable with a male doctor performing such an exam, and choose to go to a female doctor because of it. You’re a practicing doctor, I’m going to assume you’re competent until shown evidence to the contrary, but your competence doesn’t make me comfortable with you performing a breast examination on me. I’m barely comfortable with my female doctor doing it.

            If, when I had given birth, the doctor on call had been male, obviously I would have gone with the flow (and I think it’s terrible that anyone would risk their child just to have a female doctor). But in medical situations that are not urgent and deal with certain parts of my body, I’m going to choose a female doctor.

            What the father did in this instance is entirely different. He made his request based on race – clearly a discrimination. Me choosing to have a female doctor for certain procedures is not sexist and not discrimination, it’s a comfort factor for myself.

    • Stooge says:

      Depends: it may have been written by a member of staff.

      Even if it was written by the father, the hospital may still be at fault if it can be shown that the note wasn’t removed from the file at the earliest opportunity.

      • dawdler says:

         interesting question.  does the fact that the hospital simply wrote down a racist request break any laws?  not sure it does.  although the fact that anyone in the hospital staff even let that note be in the chart is at best stupid on the hospital’s part.

        anyway – the hospital ACTED on the request (they re-assigned the baby) and THAT seems like it breaks discrimination laws.

        • Halloween_Jack says:

           Writing it down wouldn’t break any laws, as long as it was made clear to him that the staff weren’t going to honor that request and that their response is also written down. In fact, it could save the jobs of the nurses and other staff on the unit if Angry Racist Man went and complained about the staff to the hospital administration or wrote a letter to the local newspaper, without the context of his own behavior.

          • C W says:

            “it could save the jobs of the nurses and other staff on the unit if Angry Racist Man went and complained about the staff to the hospital administration or wrote a letter to the local newspaper”

            Somehow I doubt this.

    • Navin_Johnson says:

      That was quick….

    • Ryan_T_H says:

      Because the hospital treated it like a legitimate request.
      A patient making racist requests is just a racist.
      A business following through on racist requests is discriminatory.

    • Tynam says:

      It is if the hospital said “yes” when presented with this idiotic demand.  That the note was posted in the patient’s file suggests that they actually did.

      The hospital isn’t responsible for this idiot’s bigotry, but as her employer, it is responsible for making sure it doesn’t actually affect her work.

      • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

        Depending on the situation (number of nurses, number of babies, degree to which cases in caseload are similar, etc.) it would seem that either choice was going to affect her work, quite possibly with leaving her on the case being more unpleasant than taking her off.

        If, say,the hospital is large enough to have a bunch of more-or-less-fungible neonates on hand at any given time, would you rather deal with baby A, or baby B whose parents hate you for no good reason?

        If the hospital felt the need to be sneaky about it, that wouldn’t cast their motives in a good light (nor would swapping out a specialist nurse in a NICU in favor of a less qualified substitute, or sending the nurse off to do something substantially less desirable  or similar); but, absent that, keeping employees out of range of avoidable customer-rage seems like a benefit.

        In my experience with technical support teams, I can definitely think of cases where the techs, quite voluntarily, shunted known-problem users to whoever was able to deal with them mostly smoothly, to keep the heat off colleagues who that user had some sort of weird hate-on about.

        • foobar says:

          If racist dad is causing a problem, the solution is to have racist dad removed.

        • Tynam says:

          Oh, sure, many support workers do that kind of thing.  But that’s with the consent and cooperation of the staff, to avoid dealing with needless crap.  The lawsuit rather suggests that this nurse did not consent.  Since she was, effectively, removed from her normal duties at the request of a racist, that makes a very large difference.

  3. Matthew Urso says:

    at least he used the preferred terminology!  

  4. Stooge says:

    Xeni, the stuff you link to suggests the note was put there at the father’s request rather than by the father himself as the headline has it.

    • Pope Ratzo says:

       And that makes a difference because…?

      • Stooge says:

        If the father did it, we have a single racist, and if the father asked someone to do it and they complied we have a racist father and a racist institution. It’s not exactly rocket science.

        Honestly, I’m amazed how little time some people think before posting.

    • C W says:

      What you’re saying is pretty much the height of irrelevancy.

    • The difference matters. It’s not the hospital’s fault if a patient is a racist POS… but it is their fault if they treat the request as anything other than grossly inappropriate.

      • ocschwar says:

        The hospital had an ethical duty to put the baby’s interests above all else. It appears they felt the way to do that was comply with the racist father’s request to bar African American nurses from treating the baby. Was it discriminatory? Yes. Was it done in bad faith? Probably not. 

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          The hospital had an ethical duty to put the baby’s interests above all else.

          This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the baby’s interests. It is entirely irrelevant to medical care and care in general.

        • C W says:

          “The hospital had an ethical duty to put the baby’s interests above all else. It appears they felt the way to do that was comply with the racist father’s request to bar African American nurses from treating the baby”

          I hope they lose the discrimination lawsuit, seeing as race has nothing to do with the baby’s interests.

        • Stooge says:

          I want to hear more about this good faith racism business…

  5. Xeni Jardin says:

    I’ve updated the headline. The father reportedly made the demand; the hospital is said to have complied with the demand and in so doing, violated the law. That’s why she’s suing. 

    • mtdna says:

      If you read the text of the formal complaint to the court, which is linked on the news page, you can see how bad it really was. The Nurse Manager’s responding to the father by reassigning the African American nurse was just the first offense. The Nurse Manager subsequently met with higher-ups, the Director of Women and Children Services and the Director of Nursing, to discuss the decision. They too agreed to go along with the father’s request. So it wasn’t just the assigning nurse, it was an administrative decision by the hospital. I.e., it was institutionalized racism.

  6. cjporkchop says:

    What I’d like to have done:

    1) While wearing rubber gloves, cover palm and fingers of one hand with henna paste.
    2) Make giant brown hand-print on baby. Wipe off paste after color has had time to set.
    3) “Oh noez! Your baby caught the Black!”

  7. Dewgeist says:

     So, going a bit sideways to the topic…

    As a male nurse I have, at times, been informed a particular patient does not want a male RN.  I’ve never treated this as discriminatory (even though it is) because it isn’t about me.

    The patient, to a large extent, is a captive audience –likely sick or injured and not in a place of their choosing.  I’ve worked with many professionals who view this as an opportunity to educate patients about how they are doing life wrong: Not wanting blood products, not wanting vaccines, not wanting men caring for them, having tattoos, piercings, odd sexual proclivities, different religious beliefs…on and on it goes. 

    Sometimes a frank, non-judgmental discussion about personal behavior/beliefs is indicated and necessary to the care of the person involved.  But when it becomes a clash of belief systems –about who is right and who is wrong –that’s when the care provider has gone off the rails.

    There are limits, of course. I find the racist request of the father in this story detestable and can’t really say how I would respond if I was there.
    Perhaps rather poorly, I’m human after all…

    • Jardine says:

      My niece recently had a daughter and the woman in the other bed in her hospital room had a daughter too. She was also Muslim and was very particular about keeping the curtains closed tightly around her section whenever a male was in the room. I don’t know for sure, but I would assume she didn’t want male doctors, nurses, or orderlies seeing her either. Why would that request be any more legitimate than this racist one?

      • smarty says:

        As an individual, the patient is free to discriminate under non-discrimination laws. It’s businesses that are not permitted to do so. So the Muslim patient, as long as she is conscious can take steps to actively shield herself from men, as her religious beliefs teach. When the hospital supports discrimination by enforcing the private party’s discrimination, it is an interesting question. As Dewgeist says, some people don’t want male nurses, and the professionals will try to accommodate the patient’s wishes. Always a question of where you draw the line. It’s idiotic to judge people on irrational bases like color and gender, but we are human and do it on a host of other, equally irrational criteria, like whether somebody is attractive or ugly, tall or short… The list is long.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          As Dewgeist says, some people don’t want male nurses

          And patients who don’t want a female nurse? Women still dominate the profession, and there will be many shifts when there are no men working. It’s refusal of care.

          How about if a (straight) male patient insists that he won’t allow a male nurse to handle his junk and demands that a woman do it? In the long run, you can’t provide good care to people who refuse competent caregivers, so you have to tell them to just suck it up or go elsewhere.

      • missmimipoppy says:

        Could it be that the Muslim woman doesn’t hate men but wants to protect her religious beliefs?

        • C W says:

          Yeah, imagining that religious modesty is the same as neo-nazis is a bit of a stretch and it’s a shame that people are pretending it’s the same.

        • Jardine says:

          I didn’t mean to imply she hates men. It was about her religious beliefs. And it’s simple to accommodate. Visitors treat a curtain in a hospital like a brick wall anyway and I suspect there were plenty of female staff in the maternity ward. But why are we fine with accommodating her beliefs but not the beliefs of the racist asshole?

          • C W says:

            Because her preference is not institutionalizing hatred.

          • wysinwyg says:

            So are you saying racists should get to pick and choose the colors of their nurses or are you saying a Muslim woman should be forced to have a man she isn’t married to examine her cooch?

            Given the amount of shame and anxiety over sexual matters we get in our culture I can understand why patients might have a gender preference.  It doesn’t have to do with hating one gender or thinking one gender is more competent than the other — it has to do with what causes the least amount of stress and embarrassment for the patient.  I guess you could say something similar about racists — maybe they’re honestly anxious over the thought of having to deal with folks of another race.

            But in our society we seem to have decided that it’s OK to make racists anxious about having to deal with black people while we have not seemed to decide it’s OK to humiliate people with different views on modesty and sexuality.  I think these are good decisions.

    • C W says:

      “As a male nurse I have, at times, been informed a particular patient does not want a male RN.  I’ve never treated this as discriminatory (even though it is) because it isn’t about me.”

      Yes, because wanting their own sex is exactly the same as white supremacism.

      • Dewgeist says:

         I suppose my prefacing statement wasn’t sufficient?  I wasn’t attempting to draw an equivalency –but rather an analogy that was within my frame of reference.

        • wysinwyg says:

           Your prefacing statement kinda made it worse.  You affirmed it is discriminatory (even though it’s almost certainly based on the patient’s views on sexuality and modesty rather than concerns about your hygiene, trustworthiness, or competence).

    • SHeadius says:

      Well now, finally some reason and sense among the pitchforks and torches. I would think the racist requester has that right and the hospital should comply if it is simple for them to. I don’t see anyone losing pay or status or a job simply because the KKK guy doesn’t want to be near blacks.

      If they can do it easily, so be it. If they can’t, he can go to a different hospital. Nothing has been harmed or fouled here except people’s feelings. Such is life.

      • Felton / Moderator says:

        Why should the hospital adopt a racist policy to accommodate a racist?

        • Mike The Bard says:

          Because when a parent is looking at their kid and wondering whether they’re going to survive, you put your own feelings towards them aside and show some sympathy.

          • wysinwyg says:

            “Sir, I’m sorry you’re a racist but the best bet for the survival of your child is to allow us to assign staff the way we normally would to avoid disrupting hospital policy.” Sympathy.

      • Snig says:

        Aside from the illegality, it’d be a damn poor precedent.  Racists could request only white doctors and staff, sexists could request only men, hipsters could request only doctors with ironic detachment and cool glasses. It’s very close to literally letting the inmates run the asylum.

  8. I’m pretty sure that one can always refuse care.  So if the dad was willing to refuse care from every dark-skinned nurse (I’ll make the assumption that he likely would and wouldn’t care if they were from africa or australia or pakistan), he would be within his rights.  Of course, the unit (likely in the person of the nurse manager) would be able to either move staff around or explain how it was not possible to provide care to the infant based on the father’s request.  They would then move to transfer to another unit (presumably with lighter-skinned staff but no guarantee) but continue to provide care to the infant until that time– if the father continued to refuse life-supporting care at that point (ie, rather the baby die than have a dark-skinned nurse) then child services would be called in.
    I’m sure that the press-ganey scores would suffer, but such is life.

  9. chgoliz says:

    It’s what happened next that I’m curious about….

    So this guy is certifiably racist, and has made his racist request which the hospital has decided to oblige.  Who volunteered to be the follow-up nurse in this situation?  You’d have to be a saint to put aside your righteous anger to take care of that poor baby, knowing you’d be in proximity to such a vile father.  And this went on for over a month before the hospital lawyer figured out they needed to finally do the right thing and stand up to the dad.  That means multiple nursing shifts.  Were they all saints, or racists themselves?  It’s one thing to jump in when there’s an acute situation, but to keep working for over a month when you know your colleague has been transferred for no good reason is entirely different.  Why weren’t the rest of the nurses raising hell over this?

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      I assume that, while tempting, telling daddy dearest that if spawning a kid who languishes in NICU for a month is the best he can do, he may not be up to the challenge of ensuring a future for white children is considered unprofessional…

    • marilove says:

      Or maybe they didn’t “choose” to take those shifts…? Do you think they are their own bosses or something?

      Nursing is a hard job. It’s stressful. Maybe they didn’t feel they had the time or resources to cause a stink. Maybe they felt an innocent baby deserved decent care, even if his father was a racist douche. The baby didn’t do anything wrong, after all.

  10. agonist says:

    Raising a child in an environment of hate should be considered abuse. The negative effects of that environment will adversely affect the rest of that child’s life.

  11. nvlady says:

    This is lame. I wish the note had said ‘all races but white’. But no, it specifically said no black people. What about asian or hispanic? So tired of the discrimination spotlight being on us black people. More than willing to share.

    • C W says:

      Like the father would be ok with Fillipino, Mexican, or Jewish caregivers.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I worked literally hundreds of shifts over almost 20 years where every nurse and nursing assistant on the floor was non-white. Even if the crew on the shift is mixed (by race, by gender, whatever), staff still have to take breaks, there are emergencies that pull one nurse away from her patients, assignments change as new admissions come in. This is why you can’t safely cater to this kind of whim.

      Hospital staffing is never generous. There’s no fat in the equation that would allow any considerations other than medical ones. If you’ve got a patient who’s only there for eight hours and she refuses a red-haired nurse, it might not make any difference. But if she ends up staying for two weeks, it’s going to fuck up everybody’s workload trying to accommodate her, and that’s going to threaten the ability to care for everyone on the floor.

  12. Mike The Bard says:

    Oh boy, I can’t believe I’m going to play devils advocate on this one…

    If I were in a hospital and pointed to some random employee and said “I don’t want that person treating my child”, I would expect the hospital to make every reasonable effort to honor my wishes.

    Personally, I can think of a dozen different reasons a person might do this:  Maybe I know that employee from something secret like an AA meeting, or my position as a psychologist or corrections officer.  Maybe I overheard them say something really offensive or that makes me not trust them.  Maybe I just get a bad vibe off of them.  Maybe I have PTSD, and that employee is unknowingly setting off my triggers (which could be anything).  Maybe I’m just a racist jackass or have a religious bias.  Why is irrelevant: if the person ultimately responsible for the patient- the PARENT- makes a request that a member of the staff not attend their kid, the hospital should try to honor that request, even if they don’t agree with it.

    Now, I will clarify that we ARE talking about a HOSPITAL- And “reasonable effort to honor the parent’s wishes” does not mean “let the kid die”.  If the kid is coding, then whoever is closest or most qualified does their job and you don’t worry about explaining things to the parent until the crisis is past.

    So, a couple thought exorcises here:

    Would this be different if the father had requested that no Christians or no women, or nobody under 40 should attend his kid?

    For that matter, lets flip this 180.  Lets pretend you saw that a nurse at the hospital had a “God Hates F*gs” t-shirt under their scrubs, and requested that they not attend to your kid.  Knowing that this request was made (technically) on religious grounds, should the hospital reassign the nurse from your case?  Is THIS discrimination?  How is the situation different?  Does your answer depend on how they word the request in your chart?

    What would the father’s reaction have been if they had either outright or surreptitiously refused his request?  Could they have been risking a violent outburst?  A lawsuit if his child couldn’t be moved and they refused to let him see him?  Could the guy pose a risk to others at the hospital if they didn’t comply?  Could he simply make everyone’s lives absolutely miserable in a legal and nonviolent way?

    I really hate being the devil’s advocate on this, but I do have to say:

    1) Parents generally have the right to decide what’s best for their own kids- Even misguided racist fuckwits.

    2) I don’t think that failing to add “FATHER IS A RACIST DICK” before “NO BLACK NURSES” on a chart is so grievous an error as to justify a lawsuit.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      If I were in a hospital and pointed to some random employee and said “I don’t want that person treating my child”, I would expect the hospital to make every reasonable effort to honor my wishes.

      And you would be well within your rights to request a different caregiver. It happens all the time, and it should generally be accommodated with no prejudice to the patient. It’s also completely unrelated to what happened here.

      Would this be different if the father had requested that no Christians or no women, or nobody under 40 should attend his kid?

      No. It would be treated just the same. We had patients who requested no Jewish caregivers, and we told them that we would not honor that request. We had a few patients who requested no male nurses, and we told them that we would not endanger their safety by making them off-limits to anyone who could potentially provide care to them.

      Lets pretend you saw that a nurse at the hospital had a “God Hates F*gs” t-shirt under their scrubs, and requested that they not attend to your kid.

      That employee would have been immediately suspended and fired shortly thereafter. And equating hate speech with skin color dials your credibility right down to zero.

      A lawsuit if his child couldn’t be moved and they refused to let him see him? Could the guy pose a risk to others at the hospital if they didn’t comply?

      Trying to sue a hospital for complying with the law is a short road to nowhere. If he poses a risk, it’s a police matter. Since hospitals rather frequently deal with victims of violence, legal restraints are part of the business.

      Parents generally have the right to decide what’s best for their own kids

      Parents are appropriately subject to all kinds of legal restraints to prevent them harming their children. And once again, this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the child, so that argument is irrelevant.

      I don’t think that failing to add “FATHER IS A RACIST DICK” before “NO BLACK NURSES” on a chart is so grievous an error as to justify a lawsuit.

      Then I sincerely hope that you are in no position to make or interpret law.

      • Mike The Bard says:

        “That employee would have been immediately suspended and fired shortly thereafter. And equating hate speech with skin color dials your credibility right down to zero.”

        You call it hate speech, I call it hate speech. Other people call it a deeply held religious belief, and THOSE are ALSO protected from discrimination.  In any case, I’m addressing this in a different post.

        “Trying to sue a hospital for complying with the law is a short road to nowhere…I sincerely hope that you are in no position to make or interpret law”

        Irrelevant. We all know how many idiotic lawsuits are filed on a daily basis.  The fact is, that any time a lawsuit is threatened, let alone filed, lawyers get called and someone looses money.  The actual merit or chances of the case itself have little to do with this.  As I said in the original post, I ALSO don’t think the comment on the duty roster was worth filing a lawsuit over, but hey- that’s just what people DO these days.  The fact is, that the second the father made his request, chances are SOMEBODY was going to sue somebody else either over what they did, or what they didn’t do. It’s a no-win scenario. Hooray- Everybody loses but the lawyers.

        “Parents are appropriately subject to all kinds of legal restraints to prevent them harming their children. And once again, this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the child, so that argument is irrelevant.” 

        Yes, this does have to do with the child, and those restraints aren’t relevant.  A parent is the kid’s LEGAL GUARDIAN, and is ultimately responsible for pretty much everything related to them right up until the day they turn 18. Those “legal restraints” deal almost entirely with immediate physical dangers- Abuse, neglect, putting into harm’s way- They don’t cover simply indoctrinating children into a backwards and antisocial worldview.  If they did, then every Teabagger, creationist, and doomsday prepper with a family would be up on charges.

        Here’s the thing: We have, in this country, the freedom of association.  If you don’t want to associate with a particular group of people for whatever reason, you shouldn’t be forced to.  Now, mind you- I think that is probably a short-sighted and counterproductive way to go through life, but the only people I’m allowed to make decision for are MYSELF, and any minor children that I am legally responsible for. This guy has made that decision for himself, and for his child. On some level, he honestly doesn’t trust non-whites to provide proper care, and is doing what he thinks is best (again, see the other post). I don’t agree with it, but the fact is that he has the RIGHT to make that decision, and I’ll support his right to be a jackass the same way I’ll support the local church’s right to spew whatever bullshit they’re feeding the flock that Sunday.  This is one of those “I don’t agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” moments.

        As far as the hospital’s response, I reiterate: No matter what they decide, the only ones coming out ahead are the lawyers.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          As far as the hospital’s response, I reiterate: No matter what they decide, the only ones coming out ahead are the lawyers.

          You’re willing to let the Civil Rights Act go by the wayside to appease a racist bully. You might as well just use the word ‘uppity’.

        • marilove says:

          Wow.  This is one hell of a tirade defending a racist asshole.  Do you agree with him or something?  Because that’s how it comes across.  oh, you’ll deny it.  Don’t bother.  I already have made up my mind about you.

          If you don’t  like that, perhaps you need to stop defending racism.

          It’s also going to be fantastic when the ACLU throws their lawyers at this hospital and you have egg on your face.

          Why are you defending this crap, anyway? Do you think people should say and DO racist things and then face no consequences because of ” free speech”? (It’s always a piss-poor understanding of free speech!)

          • Mike The Bard says:

            For fuck’s sake. I’m defending him because he has a baby in the ICU, and that’s an experience that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. He’s in the one situation that gets my complete sympathy regardless of what type of person he is.

          • wysinwyg says:

             He’s making that situation worse by putting limits on who can provide care to his child.  Shouldn’t you be angry at him for endangering his own child?

    • C W says:

      “1) Parents generally have the right to decide what’s best for their own kids-”

      I’m so surprised someone with this worldview has only childish devils’ advocacies to offer.

      • Funk Daddy says:

        Yeah that’s ass backwards.

        In the real world, which Mike teh Burd doth not inhabit, parents make every effort to be sure they are justifiably perceived as the best choice to decide what is best for their children, because there are many who will decide for them otherwise.

        The father in this sad tale is at least a potential candidate for losing the privilege of children if his asshattedness is strongly recurrent

      • Mike The Bard says:

        It’s not a worldview, it’s an established cultural norm. As kids get older, they make their own decisions, but when they’re young, it’s the parents who decide what they eat, what they wear, when they go to bed, who they play with, what TV shows they watch… And yes, what customs, religion, and prejudices they grow up with.

    • marilove says:

      Lets pretend you saw that a nurse at the hospital had a “God Hates F*gs” t-shirt under their scrubs, and requested that they not attend to your kid.

      Wait, WHAT?  Are you high?  In what world would this *EVER* happen? Or not cause the nurse to be fired immediately?!

      Do you need a shovel to help dig you out before you suffocate under all that straw?

      It’s always amusing when people have to make shit up THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN just to support their stupid attempt at “playing devil’s advocate”. Maybe you should stop playing and leave this discussion up to the adults…

      • Mike The Bard says:

        It WOULDN’T HAPPEN. You’ve missed the point of the thought exercise.  Let’s try this again:

        Your child needs medical care.  You bring them to a hospital.  You notice something about several of the employees which suggests that these are not people you feel comfortable trusting your child’s well being to. 

        For the purpose of illustration, we’ve gone with that something being an offensive t-shirt- One which is based on a religious belief (and therefore enjoys a certain legal protection), but which immediately tells you this is not a person you want to be around.  Let’s pretend the t-shirt in question actually says something you find threatening, but again- is something that their employer is not legally allowed to fire them over.

        How do you expect the hospital to accommodate you?  What will you do if they refuse?

        Again, please don’t take this as an endorsement of Mr Swastika’s worldview.  I’m not defending it, only trying to explain it.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          Again, please don’t take this as an endorsement of Mr Swastika’s worldview. I’m not defending it, only trying to explain it.

          You’re lying. Not only to us, but to yourself.

          • Mike The Bard says:

            No, I’m quite honest about my own prejudices.  Race, gender, and nationality aren’t among them.  Religion, party affiliation, and a few other things very much are.

            I think it’s sad to base an opinion on someone on something as arbitrary as skin color, but I can very much sympathize with being in a room full of people and not trusting half of them.

            You want to know what this is REALLY about?

            I know- and very, very intimately- what it’s like to watch your kid die in the delivery room, so forgive me if I tend to sypathise more with a worried and greiving father than I do with… well… anybody else on the fucking planet. I don’t care if they’re a racist scumbag, a serial killer, or a FOX anchorman- at THAT MOMENT, all I see is a parent with a sick kid who may or may not get better, and I really don’t give a flying fuck WHAT has to go by the wayside to offer them a moment’s piece of mind. There are people in this world I would happily put a bullet in without a second thought, and I STILL wouldn’t wish that experience on them.

            If you’ve been working in a hospital for that long, and you honestly, genuinely cannot grasp that concept, then I seriously hope I never find myself in your care.

        • marilove says:

          OH, please. Have you actually read what Antinous — who has actual experience — has said?

          And, yes, you are endorsing his worldview. And it’s really, really sad.

          • Mike The Bard says:

             *I* have actual experience- both the experience of having a child die, and the experience being discriminated against on the basis of something which was supposedly protected by law.

            In some of those instances of discrimination, I raised holy hell, and in some of them I just let it slide- Based on whether the result was simply hurt feelings or actual damage to my job, finances, or social standing. If the nurse lost hours or days off, or if it impairs their relationship with management, it’s a different thing than if they just felt offended.

            I’m saying that this one specific case is one where the discrimination should be let slide, based on the fact that having a baby in the ICU is one of the worst and most stressful things a parent can go through, and there is comparatively little harm in providing some comfort.  Even if the guy is a miserable human being, this is the one situation where my sympathies outweigh pretty much everything else.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Even if the guy is a miserable human being, this is the one situation where my sympathies outweigh pretty much everything else.

            I’m sorry for what you had to go through, but if your principles become non-operational because you’re upset, they’re not principles. You’re defending racism.

    • Funk Daddy says:

      “What would the father’s reaction have been if they had either outright or surreptitiously refused his request?  Could they have been risking a violent outburst?  A lawsuit if his child couldn’t be moved and they refused to let him see him?  Could the guy pose a risk to others at the hospital if they didn’t comply? ”

      Srsly? Fear as justification for an institution accepting human rights violations? 

      I expect my devils to have at least 3 braincells to rub together. I cast thee out.

  13. mrtut says:

    The hospital could have provided original African nurses?
    Oh wait that would be discriminatory of Americans!

  14. rocketpjs says:

    In Canada, but I used to do biological stuff on fish boats.  Some of the boats flat out refused to take women – clear discrimination and highly illegal. 

    OTOH a boat captain has a very clear legal right to decide who comes on the boat.  So my employer was in a no-win situation – can’t and won’t endorse/support discrimination, can’t force fishers to take any particular individual out on their boat.

    They ended up in an awkward compromise where the sexist fishers basically paid the wages for the women they would not take, as well as whoever they did take.  Douchebags. I have no idea how it would have held up in court.  As it turned out, most of my female coworkers were mostly OK with being paid their full wage to have days off and not go out to sea in a small boat full of sexist assholes (as far as I know).

    This hospital is a different situation, and should have just made the rules clear to the racist asswipe.

  15. prius04 says:

    A lot of people in this thread seem to miss the point on this.  The racist request was not put in the patients chart.  It was put on the duty roster by the hospital.  By putting it on the duty roster the hospital was telling the black nurses to not care for this baby.  I saw not a hint in the article that the hospital was telling the staff to watch out for this racist jerk.  Had it been the latter then the argument the hospital was only giving a heads up would be valid.  But there is zero evidence that this is the case.

    Thus the hospital is culpable.  

  16. Funk Daddy says:

    Proper response from hospital?

    Politely decline accommodation and placate person asking with offer of a free vasectomy.

  17. James Penrose says:

    Besides, the hospital has deep pockets.  Some Aryan red-neck probably living in a broken-down trailer isn’t likely to yield a lot.

  18. Bradley Robinson says:

    Solution:  Schedule only African American nurses.

    Everything else will take care of itself one way or another.

  19. aeon says:

    When I was working in the UK as a junior doc we occasionally had a racist idiot not wanting treatment from “a Paki doctor” (sic). Which, given that Asian migrants to the UK are generally a hard working bunch and well represented in the professions, would have been impossible to accommodate even if we were racist shits as well… The approach we took was for the whole team of doctors to go into the patient’s room and tell that they would be seen by whoever turned up and if they didn’t like it they could discharge themselves against medical advice. No lawyers or management involvement needed. 

    The only time it was inappropriate to do that was for an old guy who’d been a Japanese PoW during WWII, who utterly freaked out at the sight of any East Asians who came near him. He had no reaction to black or South Asian staff — PTSD, rather than racism. But rather hard on an unfortunate Chinese colleague and a handful of Filipino nurses…

  20. Velocirapt42 says:

    I work with a bunch of docs and nurses who are not white/ Christian/ straight. This is in an outpatient setting. If people ask to be placed with a provider who is white/ Christian/ straight, the party line is to tell them that our scheduling is performed based on availability and specialty, not race/ religion/ gender. But we do give the provider in question a heads-up about the situation. Some prefer to simply let them schedule with whatever qualifications they want, because they are too busy and don’t want to deal with racist/ homophobic/ discriminatory fucks. Some like to take the appointment, go in and provide care, and pretend they know nothing about the request. Some like to go into the appointment and sit down and smile and say, “I understand you preferred to see a doctor who isn’t _____, let’s talk about your concerns.” 

    The point is that the choice is the provider’s, not the patient’s. If they insist that they MUST HAVE A WHITE/ STRAIGHT/ CHRISTIAN/ ETC. provider, we tell them nicely to go elsewhere. An organization has no business whatsoever enforcing someone’s racism.

    Gender preference, to me, is different. If someone has a gender request, we often accede (because we see teenagers, and it’s pretty normal for teenagers to feel they relate better to someone of their own gender), or at least promise to have someone of the same gender in the room as a chaperone/ observer, which can help a lot. It’s in the realm of normal, developmentally, for a teenager to have a gender preference. Racism or religious discrimination is, while common, not a “normal” developmental phenomenon.

    Then there are people who, due to rape or other trauma, can’t deal with someone of the opposite sex (or the same sex, depending on the assault) touching them. That’s PTSD, we work around it, and arrange for mental health counseling so hopefully it won’t be a problem in the future. 

    Inpatient, you can’t always tell somebody nicely to go elsewhere. But you can give the nurse the choice on whether or not he/ she feels safe with that family being the primary assignment (in emergencies, you get who you get.)

    As for people being disruptive on a unit- that happens all the time, and if someone is going to get shirty there is a nice security force to keep them in line!

  21. Xploder says:

     Try living here in Flint. Not only am I used to the racist pieces of shit that live and work here (on both sides of the color line), I’m fully used to the hospital in question (Hurley). What really amazes me is the fact that the hospital went ahead and did what the father wanted, i.e., no African-American nurses for his precious snowflake. Being that Flint has such a high percentage of African-Americans, it’s hard to believe that it was allowed to go forward and be made policy.

    In conclusion, Flint sucks. Then again, I own my house so it isn’t as though I can move somewhere else and start all over.

  22. millie fink says:

    White people are so funny sometimes, equating black mistreatment of whites with white racism/supremacy. 

    SMDH

  23. C W says:

    “a chunk of Detroit is rampantly racist towards caucasians”

    Great googly moogly. I always wonder how the right-wing extremists get on Boing Boing. I guess there are Bircher nerds.

  24. Kommkast says:

    I know what you mean, my friend used to go to Kettering and they had to fish bodies out of the river all the time, the place is crazy.. 

  25. ocschwar says:

    Swastika tattoos are generally not acquired in tattoo parlors. I suspect the father’s prison record had something to do with why the hospital chose to comply with his request. 

  26. missmimipoppy says:

    I lived in MI for a time (California native). The racism I encountered was disgusting. Maybe I was unlucky to live across the street from an idiot who thought because I was white it was ok to say dumbass racist things. Yet, I even had the misfortune of meeting a “new” Klansman in the short time I was there.

    There are a lot of cool things in MI but I will cheer for this woman to take the hospital to the cleaners.

  27. C W says:

    “I suspect the father’s prison record had something to do with why the hospital chose to comply with his request. ”

    I again hope the nurse receives a very large settlement for this, then.

  28. mccrum says:

    Oh, that does make total sense.  That a hospital would just go along with a racist request from someone because they’d been to prison. 

    Because we should all just give in to bullies all the time, that’s totally the best policy for them to take.

  29. Xploder says:

     You can get a swastika tattoo in any tat parlor here in Flint. It’s more related to Native American religious practices even though everyone knows that it’s the racist bastards out there who are getting them. Actually, some of them look pretty damn awesome.

    Prison tats (at least those I’ve seen around here) usually consist of real shitty renditions of naked women done completely in one color (india ink) – you also may see a teardrop here and there on someone trying to look badass but those are rare as the wearers tend to get the shit beat out of them quite often.

    Hopefully, this nurse will get a shit-ton of money due to all this bullshit. Knowing how the legal system works here though, I sincerely doubt that she’ll see anything in less than fie to ten years. Also, the legal fees WILL be 1/3rd of any settlement plus costs. That’s how the lawyers paid to get those laws on the books, so that’s what they’re gonna collect.

  30. Mike The Bard says:

    Some situations are best handled with logic and rational discussion.
    Some situations are best handled through violence.
    Some situations are best handled through empathy.
    Some situations are best handled by cooperating.
    Some situations are best handled by calling in an outside authority.
    Some situations are best handled by telling someone off.
    Some situations are best handled by doing nothing.

    Add to this that things don’t always go according to plan- Sometimes the robber takes the cash and runs, and sometimes he shoots all the witnesses.  No matter what gets done, more often than not, somebody is disappointed with the outcome.

    Several people got together to make a judgement call on how to handle their specific situation. 

    It’s easy to second guess them when none of us were actually there to witness the details or context.

  31. ocschwar says:

    If he went to prison, you can assume he is more likely than other babies’s parents to step out of line and be an asshole. Possibly be an asshole right in front of the family of the next baby in the room, who are going through a very hard time, baby in the NICU and all.You’re the floor manager. Do you 1. tell him “we don’t roll that way” and take that chance or 2. comply, in the hope that he and his kid will be gone in a few weeks? 

  32. C W says:

    You call law enforcement for someone threatening the staff.

  33. Antinous / Moderator says:

    WTF, dude? You want to live in a bullyocracy where we ignore the law because we’re afraid of some asshole. Move to Somalia.

  34. str1cken says:

    Came here to read some internet shitbag’s elaborate justification for kowtowing to the racist demands of a white supremacist.

    Was not disappointed.

  35. ocschwar says:

    “You want to live in a bullyocracy” I would sooner cut off a body part than live in Flint. It’s one of the rust belt cities along with Youngstown and Detroit that is explicitly trying to shrink and withdraw services from the outer areas and revert them to forest. The people living there are increasingly composed of people who cannot find housing anywhere else (e.g. ex convicts like this guy). So it seems to me the place already is such a bullyocracy and the hospital’s decision was driven not just by mere stupidity but by local conditions (plus stupidity). 

  36. Snig says:

    If you think a patient’s family member is potentially violent, you don’t provoke him, but you also don’t rewrite your policy or break the law to make him happy.  What if he wanted to drink beers, and sing sea shanties?  

    Hospitals have guards, we all pay for taxes so cops so they can deal with someone stepping out of line and being this kind of asshole.  It’s how society works.  Making the patient, patient’s family comfortable, good idea.  Allowing the patient’s family to change hospital policy, is foolish, as they’ll only take more advantage of you.  And tell their racist friends to come there for similar accommodation.  Finally, breaking the law, pissing off your own staff, giving hard working staff great grounds for a law suit, is an insanely bad idea. 

  37. ocschwar says:

    “WTF, dude?” I’m letting my own experience with a kid in a NICU, rubbing shoulders with the parents of the infant in the next machine over, with the staff moving heaven and earth to keep everything sotto voce for the benefit of all involved. 

  38. Xploder says:

     I knew a Mimi when I was stationed in Germany and she also was from California. I’m really sorry that what you clearly remember the most about my wonderful state is the fact that we have a bunch of racist assholes here.

  39. Antinous / Moderator says:

    There’s already vastly too much racial (and other kinds of) discrimination in the US. Setting aside the law every time a racist bully complains would increase it a hundredfold. All of your arguments are in favor of discarding the rule of law in favor of social Darwinism.

  40. wysinwyg says:

    Several people got together to make a judgement call on how to handle their specific situation. 

    It’s easy to second guess them when none of us were actually there to witness the details or context.

    In this case it is incredibly easy to second-guess them…because they were in the wrong both morally and legally.

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