Doctor Reacts to John Oliver | Last Week Tonight: Bias in Medicine

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  • Published: 22 August 2019
  • John Oliver discussed medical bias on his latest episode and you requested that I react to it. This episode is slightly different than most of my other reaction videos as I gave a watch before doing the reaction video in order to vet the research discussed on the program. If you'd like for me to cover this topic in more detail please do comment below.

    Original Video: https://youtu.be/TATSAHJKRd8
    Diversity Video: https://youtu.be/KWkF2N4BFRA

    If you have an idea of something you want me to cover in-depth, please let me know because I take your requests seriously. We will be back with more Doctor Reacts Series, Memes, & Responding to Comments so please submit more names of shows/episodes & questions you'd like for me to watch. Love you all!

    - Doctor Mike Varshavski

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    ** The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional professional **

Comments • 13 337

  • Space Otter
    Space Otter  4 hours back

    I call BS. It took 15 years for a doctor to zero in on hemochromatosis as my problem. Multiple doctors said to me, in so many words, the pain and such I was experiencing was caused by depression. Well they were wrong. I'm a 46 year old white male.

    • Heather Woods
      Heather Woods  5 hours back

      This was awesome and educational! I just wish he would also have covered ageism and medical bias as well. My heart condition went undiagnosed for so long bc "you're too young to have heart issues" and this is so common 😒

      • David B
        David B  7 hours back

        The problem here is the fact some people jump from a personal story of poor quality medical care to, it must be because I'm a women... or I'm black! Etc. Then the leftist virtue signalling media like John Oliver jump on it to push their sex and race baiting message! As you have shown, John Oliver pointed out numbers from the studies which fit his narrative and ignores all the real reasons that go againt that narrative and ignores the fact the discrepancies are closing!

        • Jordan Holleman
          Jordan Holleman  10 hours back

          "we're not robots"
          AI have to learn from something, and the best medical knowledge is from humans. Humans are based, so the AIs learn that bias. Robots don't always know the right answer.

          • Eli Holmes
            Eli Holmes  10 hours back

            I have a phd in psychology. Having been in multiple medical setting, it is fact are not trained in psychological biases! I have witness it happen numerous times, having point out and educate medical doctors on the biases they are exhibiting! My speciality was in diagnostic reasoning so saw it every time I was around physicians. Furthermore, physicians don't to refer to psych because they can give medication. It can ruin lives. My ex gf worked in insurance where a women called in at 40 being rejected for life insurance. My gf investigated and out she diagnosed with a an anxiety disorders years earlier because of anxiety and 3 boys. Only took the medication for about a month because of the husband gone. This clearly a family therapy issue. Yet do coding she anxiety dx, and can't get life insurance!!!!

            • Corey Webster
              Corey Webster  11 hours back

              The intellectual dark web now has a medical doctor.

              • epiccollision
                epiccollision  12 hours back

                Dear google I accidentally watched one of dr mikes video, I don’t need 25 more in my recommended, I’m good thanx, great videos dr Mike Google seems to love you. Also when I clicked on that coffee machine review I was not interested in all the videos about coffee, just that one video I already watched, you’re really not good at this, do you need help?

                • Sean Su
                  Sean Su  14 hours back

                  I'd love to hear your thoughts on medicare for all, and the potential it has for reducing some of these biases.

                  • Ithaca Comments
                    Ithaca Comments  15 hours back

                    As a woman, I select a female practitioner over a male practitioner because....women practitioners, for the most part, listen when I talk. I also like to support a woman in her medical career. If I have a choice....I choose an osteopathic practitioner.

                    • Karen C
                      Karen C  21 hours back

                      Can I just say...I appreciate Dr. Mike actually taking the time to read the mentioned studies and give a more objective view. I’m a huge fan of John Oliver, but this particular episode was hugely (and ironically) biased against doctors and didn’t seem to take into consideration the environment and conditions they work that lead to these disparities between gender and race.
                      As a pharmacist, I see it all the time. The same doctor at an ER working during my shift can write for the same UTI antibiotic and tramadol every 4 hours #30 for a white patient but every 12 hours #6 for a black patient. Obviously, idk how severe the UTI is unless I ask the patient or they volunteer that info, but it’s still an interesting thing to notice. But I agree that as healthcare workers become more aware of these biases, the better we’ll get at identifying them and learning how to treat more objectively despite them.
                      Excellent video!!

                      • Lawrence Brookman
                        Lawrence Brookman  21 hours back

                        A med student asked his professor, "What if my beliefs make me uncomfortable treating a God fearing straight white guy that voted for Trump?" The professor replied, "Find a different career." We need professors like this.

                        • M P
                          M P  1 days back

                          He was a little bit too apologistic, like there isn’t discrimination

                          • Kelsey Courtney
                            Kelsey Courtney  1 days back

                            medical bias is pretty rampant in basically every hospital I've been in, as woman, and every hospital my husband has been in as a black man. We've both suffered as a result of doctors not listening to us, specifically about our pain, and having to look around for second opinions to finally get treatment is really hard when your insurance only lets you go to one place, and you're in too much pain to walk.

                            • kate leavelle
                              kate leavelle  1 days back

                              oliver and sykes mention that black patients are less likely to be prescribed opioids than white patients for severe pain.
                              doctor responds with “that’s true, whites are disproportionately affected by the opioid epidemic.


                              dude, what. the problem is that black patients aren’t having their pain taken or treated as seriously by doctors as white patients. the problem IS NOT that white people are more affected by opioid addiction. that is a SEPARATE problem, and while it is an IMPORTANT issue, it has NOTHING to do with addressing THIS issue — and the fact that you completely dismissed the original point and replaced it with concern for an entirely separate issue affecting white people is incredibly problematic.


                              this whole video is honestly just gross. i honestly don’t know what’s worse — the fact that you seem more concerned with defending your colleagues and excusing the prevalence of racial and gender bias within the medical community than you are with considering that these unacceptable facts may indeed be the result of an uncomfortable truth, or the fact that you are so passionately inclined to research and present so many possibilities for why these in-equivalencies might *not* be due to racial or gender bias because “we just don’t know” — instead of researching and presenting ANY contributing factors that point to why they may in fact very well be due to racial and gender biases. if your defense for all of these is really going to be that “we just don’t know” — then shouldn’t you actually spend just as much time and effort, or even be at least as willing to consider and explore the uncomfortable possibility that the issue may be racial and gender bias?

                              you talk a lot about how important it is to have discussions around this issue, and keep pointing out how important it is to further medical research on the differences between medical knowledge and effective treatments for the different genders and races; yet you’ve done nothing here but attempt to shut down the discussion as a preemptive defense for anyone who may wonder if they’d fall prey to such bias under your care, instead of thoughtfully considering and exploring these issues and adding to the discussion to ensure that you wouldn’t.

                              honestly the whole thing made me feel sick, and i mean.. you’re a doctor. that should’ve been my last reaction.

                              do. better.

                              • Ryoei
                                Ryoei  5 hours back

                                He absolutely explored the possibility of racial and gender bias.


                                You're acting as if these issues aren't being explored at all. They are. But they're issues that have only been widely exposed in the past 10 or 20 years. Stuff like that takes time, money, and manpower to conduct studies for. And for a decade or so of research, there's been incredible progress.


                                But there's a million reasons why there are racial and gender disparities in medicine. Some of it is absolutely due to bias, and he made that incredibly clear. But systematic issues that go beyond the doctor's office and the hospital are also liable. It's not a "shut down" of discussion. It's a nuanced look at the problem. There was a lot of hyperbole and oversimplification in John Oliver's segment. Dr. Mike was defending the medical field, sure, but you're mistaking academic transparency for deflection.

                            • John Nazario
                              John Nazario  2 days back

                              4k dislikes probably cause he acknowledged males and females are BIOLOGICALLY different lul. Fucking science people!

                              • Shirin
                                Shirin  2 days back

                                As a woman, I can say that the comments by women about their health care is 100% true. I'm a middle class white woman and get doctor's who think I'm being hysterical all the time. Especially when trying to get help for my kids. My teenager has Von Willebrand and it took 6 doctors before some believed me when I said he bled too long and took a real look. I kept being told he was fine and didn't have hemophilia but just needed iron supplements.

                                On top of that, for my own care, I'm allergic to penicillin and erythromycin. I get treated like I'm crazy and the number of doctors who have told me that I can't be allergic to both and then treat me like I'm asking for narcotics when all I want is an antibiotic that doesn't threaten my life. I'm lucky because I have been able to find doctor's who listen to me now, but every time I have to find a new doctor it's devastating to go through again.

                                • luckyjinxer
                                  luckyjinxer  3 days back

                                  Realize that John Oliver has a bias and presents things that solely back up whatever narrative he is pushing.

                                  • Marc Whinery
                                    Marc Whinery  3 days back

                                    Another factor why Black people have worse outcomes:


                                    They are afraid of doctors.


                                    "But isn't that blaming the victim"


                                    No, their fear is valid. The US sanctioned horrible experiments in the past. Tuskegee Experiment. It ended in 1972. That's less than 50 years ago, so not "ancient history".


                                    If you go to the doctor, the doctor WILL KILL YOU.


                                    So, Black people don't go to the doctor as early or often, and when they do, they are less likely to blindly trust the doctor.


                                    I don't know if that effect still holds true today. I don't have the funding to run a study on it. But I know it has existed before. I've talked with people who were unwilling to trust doctors for that and other reasons.


                                    But to ignore it is to whitewash history and the effects it has on today's results. I saw the JO piece long ago, and I don't remember if he covered it.


                                    Until doctors recognize and accept that Doctors in the US were paid by the US government to kill Black people, we won't be able to get past it.

                                    • AliveGhostCarii
                                      AliveGhostCarii  3 days back

                                      It's nice how you're spreading information on this issue, though it kind of feels like you're brushing off the fact that this is due to things like racism and sexism and discrimination in medical practice. You count it as "bad apples" and say how the doctors "just don't know any better". Like, I get you're trying to be optimistic, but it isn't all just some harmless mistakes and a couple bad instances. It's real discrimination and bias against certain groups of people.

                                      • Desiree de la Pena
                                        Desiree de la Pena  3 days back

                                        I went to the ER with an upper respiratory infection during an asthma flare up because I was the State Fair and I was allergic to all of the animals and hay. When I tried to explain it to the doctors they kept asking me if I might be pregnant even after I told them I wasn't they asked a grand total of 5times and said nothing was wrong with me and said it's my anxiety for why I feel short of breath... but they gave me the antibiotics and prednisone for my asthma? Even though they were convinced nothing was wrong with me. Regardless the medication did work and I felt fine in a few days and finished the medication.

                                        • C&C Engineer
                                          C&C Engineer  3 days back

                                          You should retitle this as "Doctor tries to defend medical bias".

                                          • Moondust2365
                                            Moondust2365  1 days back

                                            @Patty F Yup. He's not trying to defend medical bias but rather saying that there's more to these disparities than just personal bias and systematic bias. Which is true. The world is more complex. Everything is caused by more than one reason. There can be major reasons, but you can't just focus on only one major reason. Nor can you only focus on the major reasons. There needs to be attention to the minor reasons, whether eventually or separately. Because if the minor reason is left unchecked, the problem will still happen. Maybe less, but less is not none.

                                          • Patty F
                                            Patty F  1 days back

                                            Wait, he was referencing the studies and saying that it was valid

                                        • Alex G
                                          Alex G  3 days back

                                          These claims are bullshit.

                                          • beryl gilligan
                                            beryl gilligan  3 days back

                                            John Oliver is now a tv host in America because us British can’t stand him he’s a complete knob sorry you’ve been landed with him America just don’t don’t send him back please like you did with piers Morgan 🙄🤣

                                            • Auxiliary Infantry
                                              Auxiliary Infantry  3 days back

                                              If they feel like they subjected to such biases, then they should leave the US if they hate it so much. Let that Black woman move to Nigeria and get treatment there. John Oliver should be given some Islamic extremists to get some "diversity."

                                              • Mandi H.
                                                Mandi H.  3 days back

                                                I usually enjoy your videos, and I think you're trying to come from the right place, but this response reads like the medical equivalent of #notallmen.

                                                • thecocksaysmoo
                                                  thecocksaysmoo  4 days back

                                                  Why are rich docs always so attractive on top of it!? #Blessed

                                                • Oliver McEldon
                                                  Oliver McEldon  4 days back

                                                  A lot of the racial discrimination which occurs in America is due to the systemic racism, minority patients having fewer opportunities, less money and worse care

                                                  • Daniel Campbell
                                                    Daniel Campbell  5 days back

                                                    I had posted on the John Oliver video, "but there ARE genetic differences between the races! To ignore those and act like they didn't invites us treating everyone the same in a dangerous way. You spend the first half of your desk piece talking about how women are obviously different from men and we should cater their care towards them, then you turn around and say 'black people and white people are the same' which is untrue. It's not a matter of opinion when someone's physical well being is different than another's."

                                                    I got DESTROYED in the comments. Thank you Doctor Mike for bringing some validity to my argument. I want fair and equal treatment for all, but I also want everyone to get the best possible treatment for THEM.

                                                    • Thunder Life
                                                      Thunder Life  5 days back

                                                      it's funny how my sister whom is half black and Puerto Rican, she looks black, she was pregnant and in active labor but the nurses ignored her for 30 minutes, I was with her as i drove her to the hospital, she had the baby 30 minutes later (after waiting), it was fast, they rushed her to the labor room (we were in an empty room with no equipment, it was basically a double bed med surge looking room, she got care in time but she birth much faster than the staff expected, they thought she'd be there for an hour but then it happens 10 minutes from that moment (it was a fast night)

                                                      • liljekyll
                                                        liljekyll  5 days back

                                                        Omgosh your whole segment sounds like “Im not racist but”

                                                        • liljekyll
                                                          liljekyll  5 days back

                                                          Sorry it should definitely be obvious we feel pain differently then others. Like wtf.. how is that not racial bias. You need a reality check. Listening to you bullshit for 22 minutes.

                                                          • liljekyll
                                                            liljekyll  5 days back

                                                            Im disappointed in this video. You really are reaching that these differences aren’t because of bias. Like there are stories all over the world and a looottttt in America with women and poc having similar stories. Good doctors who care and work to find whats wrong is not the norm and it should be.

                                                            • Brandon Woolworth
                                                              Brandon Woolworth  5 days back

                                                              The sort of "issue" I have with the way that John Oliver portrays these things is that he does it in a manner that villainizes doctors.
                                                              These studies were done for the sake of health, and we can clearly see biases that exist, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the doctors are consciously making the decision.
                                                              In fact, that's exactly why we have these studies in the first place: to point out that there are biases so we *see* there are issues and consciously work to fix it.
                                                              Oliver leaves a lot of the content out where you have done the research and say, like at 6:00, that "women use a narrative approach" as a reason for the way that doctors can be more biased.
                                                              I am not saying that there is no misogyny in the medical field, just that John Oliver doesn't deliver a wider perception of how these issues happen.
                                                              Whether it's intentional or not, we're essentially left to our imagination, and that can cause people to draw up conclusions such as "doctors are misogynist," simply because that's the easiest conclusion to make when, in reality, it's actually the opposite.

                                                              • Denis Robert
                                                                Denis Robert  5 days back

                                                                Whoa... you can’t state that the maternal mortality issue is due to better reporting with only those 2 data point. Only if you see a jump lined up with the new reporting AND you have numbers showing that the new cases would not have been counted under the old rules can you come to that conclusion. You’re doing the same thing you accuse Oliver of doing.

                                                                • Denis Robert
                                                                  Denis Robert  5 days back

                                                                  Women present “atypically” because “typical” means men. You made Oliver’s point.

                                                                  • mcreena
                                                                    mcreena  1 days back

                                                                    Exactly. If half the population experiences the symptoms, they're not "atypical". Calling them such puts that half of the population in danger because doctors aren't going to be looking for "atypical" symptoms, and are more likely to misdiagnose. That's bias, and it's a deadly bias.

                                                                • Aiki Hanley
                                                                  Aiki Hanley  5 days back

                                                                  Uf uf uf

                                                                  • Eric Billings
                                                                    Eric Billings  5 days back

                                                                    So at 25:00 regarding death rate increasing in maternity. So in China before the revolution, municipalities did a very bad job of recording and reporting deaths. After the revolution, a mass census was conducted (new government, new count) and what was found was a lot of deaths weren't reported to census which may have something to do with tax and funding but it's unclear. Regardless the new Communist government reported the accurate death count population which government education like in the US suggest it was mass murder and famine. Of course looking at the data if that amount people died all at once, the economy would tank which obbiously didn't happen.

                                                                    On a lighter note this kind of thing happens with autism, now it being more accurately diagnosed has made it more common so people think autism is more common when really it's just being properly diagnosed.

                                                                    • Multus Sanguis Fluit
                                                                      Multus Sanguis Fluit  6 days back

                                                                      Great analysis of the video, I really liked that you looked deep into the information john oliver was portraying and critically examined his segment. He usually doesnt get that kind of scrutiny so it was very refreshing

                                                                      • Caitlin Sader
                                                                        Caitlin Sader  6 days back

                                                                        I once went to the dr after a surgery. When the nurses asked how I was and I told her how much pain I was in, she turned to me and said “ well everyone feels a slight discomfort after surgery” I was so mad and was in so much pain. When the doctor saw he couldn’t believe how Bruising I had

                                                                        • Pat Rhiannon Griffith
                                                                          Pat Rhiannon Griffith  6 days back

                                                                          White males are absolutely the appropriate people to decide whether or not implicit bias exists. /s

                                                                          • Sunflower Watermelon Sugar High

                                                                            As a female I find this video very, very interesting. Thanks! 👍

                                                                            • Shana Burton
                                                                              Shana Burton  6 days back

                                                                              I had terrible upper stomach pain mixed with nausea and was told it was acid reflux and to eat better (bare in mind I’m a dancer and my diet was extremely concentrated on nutrition). After 2 months of 3 trips to the doctors and extreme pain, I couldn’t breath I was in so much pain and was rushed to the emergency room at the hospital. My liver had almost doubled in size and my blood pressure was dangerously low. I was booked in and then drilled on my drinking habits, possible drug use, it was suggested I had hepatitis and I felt like I was being judged simply for being a young female with a swollen liver; as if the only plausible reason would be excessive drinking, drug use and sleeping around. Had a sonar a few days later and it turned out I had gallstones. To be fair its so rare for someone young and slim but the doctors and nurses treated me horribly the first few days as if my pain and swollen liver was completely my fault.
                                                                              They also didn’t believe that I had asthma when I went into surgery and there was a huge panic because my saturation levels dropped midway and my chest started closing. My mom panicked when I got wheeled in attached to a nebuliser when the other women hadn’t been. It could have been avoided had they believed me in the first place.
                                                                              I avoid doctors as much as I can.

                                                                              • Mister Derp
                                                                                Mister Derp  6 days back

                                                                                "Doctors are unaware of women's biology" -- umm, really?

                                                                                • Kevin Johnsen
                                                                                  Kevin Johnsen  6 days back

                                                                                  What is weird though is why would the doctors not be afraid of sending the men home with opioids and doing them a disservice? I do see your point, but then the argument flips and the doctors are not taking care of their male patients?

                                                                                  • AnnaLisa Wilson
                                                                                    AnnaLisa Wilson  6 days back

                                                                                    Reason: white male doctors tend to minimize symptoms of their non-white/non-male patients.

                                                                                  • Mary Stombaugh
                                                                                    Mary Stombaugh  6 days back

                                                                                    I appreciate the point about allowing for human's (especially students) mistakes, but I think the larger point here is that the lapses in their knowledge is disproportionately about black and female bodies. Intentional or not, that can still be a sign of bias, even if the bias was in their schooling. So I guess the follow up question should be are mistakes being made at the same rate across all different types of illnesses or patients. Also, it could also be argued that socioeconomic issues are also still a racial bias issue...

                                                                                    • Jay Dee
                                                                                      Jay Dee  6 days back

                                                                                      Mate, it's evident you're an optimist. It's also encouraging that you're not only in pursuit of correlations but causes. Unfortunately your tone in this video comes across as an apologist for the systemic bias built into the US healthcare system and your feeling of being 'uncomfortable' upon hearing these arguments is underwhelming. This is disappointing as you appear to agree with several of the points in the piece but your take away is that you're uncomfortable. What actions do you think needs to be taken besides 'finding the causes'? Can you not accept that bigotry is a primary cause? Hasn't your country's history, even up to right now, demonstrated that sexism and racism are ingrained in your culture? Are there policies or interventions can be implemented now? It's literally a matter of life and death isn't it?

                                                                                      • deviousxen
                                                                                        deviousxen  7 days back

                                                                                        Causation : Systemic Misogyny that has existed forever.

                                                                                        • deviousxen
                                                                                          deviousxen  7 days back

                                                                                          You can't tell me mammograms *aren't* medieval.

                                                                                          *no one* told me before starting HRT that it involved just... Making you wait for months and then CRONCHING your breasts and shooting Marie Curie beams into them LOL.

                                                                                          I will never sleep again.