Doctor claims discrimination on airliner while providing emergency care

Dakota Tebaldi

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It happened on a Delta flight, when the doctor - who is a black woman - began helping a woman who started having what sounds like a panic attack

Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, a physician and expert in obesity medicine, told CNN she was on a flight from Indianapolis to Boston on Tuesday when a woman sitting next to her started shaking and hyperventilating.

Stanford said she was already aiding the passenger when a flight attendant came by to check the situation. According to Stanford, the flight attendant asked if she was a doctor, to which Stanford replied yes.

Stanford said she continued to stabilize the passenger when a second flight attendant came to ask for her medical license. Stanford showed the flight attendant her license. Stanford said that shortly afterward both flight attendants came back and questioned her credentials and asked if the medical license she was carrying belonged to her.

Stanford described the exchange as "bewildering."

"The validity of me as a physician is being called into question," Stanford said of the experience.

Stanford said she was able to continue looking after the sick passenger. She later decided to share what happened on social media.

Stanford said an executive assistant called her and told her the company is looking at the incident and will follow up with her.

Delta spokesman Anthony Black confirmed the airline reached out to Stanford as part of an investigation. Black said in a statement that, according to the flight crew's account, the flight attendants "initially misread the credentials offered by the doctor and went to reconfirm her specific medical discipline."

"We are following up with the crew to ensure proper policy is followed. Dr. Stanford's care for the passenger remained uninterrupted throughout the duration of the medical issue," Black added.

Stanford said she felt "very unsatisfied" by Delta's response.
This kind of thing really ticks me off - this blatant post-hoc rationalization. "Went to reconfirm her specific medical discipline"??? What the hell for? It was an airplane, not a doctor's office - she was giving what amounts to first aid in an emergency. ANY M.D. is qualified to provide BLS so who even gives a rusty toss what her "specific medical discipline was"? And who the f-word led those flight attendants to believe they knew enough to scrutinize ANYONE's medical license anyways? What were they going to do, find a problem and make her stop helping? Give me a break. Plain as day these people just refused to believe that a young black woman could be an actual doctor.
 
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Kara Spengler

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It happened on a Delta flight, when the doctor - who is a black woman - began helping a woman who started having what sounds like a panic attack



This kind of thing really ticks me off - this blatant post-hoc rationalization. "Went to reconfirm her specific medical discipline"??? What the hell for? It was an airplane, not a doctor's office - she was giving what amounts to first aid in an emergency. ANY M.D. is qualified to provide BLS so who even gives a rusty toss what her "specific medical discipline was"? And who the f-word led those flight attendants to believe they knew enough to scrutinize ANYONE's medical license anyways? What were they going to do, find a problem and make her stop helping? Give me a break. Plain as day these people just refused to believe that a young black woman could be an actual doctor.
Exactly! From the description of the issue the correct course would be to stabilize the patient and let someone on the ground work out the proper treatment afterwards if followup was needed and ANY md has the training for that. It would be like when my wife broke some teeth .... even though the ER was not able to do dental stuff they were still able to clean her up (and in that case break out the 'dental kit' for something that would hold her a day or so to see an emergency dentist).

I have never heard of doctors being asked for credentials anyway when they offer assistance. Maybe delta has a policy of doing so but does that mean if they asked for an md and the only doctor was on vacation and not carrying their papers delta would refuse the help?
 

Katheryne Helendale

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According to this policy announcement, after a similar incident occurred, Delta hasn't required medical credentials in this manner since 2016.
Apparently the flight attendants on that flight hadn't gotten the memo. This was racism, plain and simple. Had the doctor been white, things woyld have happened very differently, and she wouldn't have had to produce papers, nor would she have been questioned.
 

danielravennest

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Apparently the flight attendants on that flight hadn't gotten the memo. This was racism, plain and simple. Had the doctor been white, things woyld have happened very differently, and she wouldn't have had to produce papers, nor would she have been questioned.
Meanwhile, Delta's home base is in Atlanta, where a black woman may be elected governor in a few days (currently rated a toss-up, but Obama and Oprah are both campaigning for her, and early voting is running 2.37 times 2014).
 

Aribeth Zelin

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Meanwhile, Delta's home base is in Atlanta, where a black woman may be elected governor in a few days (currently rated a toss-up, but Obama and Oprah are both campaigning for her, and early voting is running 2.37 times 2014).
Yeah, my mom told me that the turn out in her [red] county is really high, especially among the African-American population, which makes me hopeful.