Medical Anthropology: Race and Discrimination in the Field of Medical Identification

Racial identity is one of the primary information required from patients as part of the protocol data that would identify the different characteristics of the individual being admitted. This specifically provides the medical practitioners with the necessary information that they need especially reating to specific physical attributes that one race have over the other. For instance, the skin colors of individuals based on their races have a strong indication on the frequency of the cases of skin cancer occurring on much light-skinned group of racial distinction. It has been observed through studies that the melanin content of the skin protects the person from incurring skin cancer because of the covering that the said pigment creates to manage the skins capability to avoid being too much affected by too much exposure to the ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Based from the given example, it could be analyzed that knowing the racial origins of the individual being admitted gives the medical attendees a chance to either add or eliminate the possibility of skin cancer as they diagnose particular symptoms on the patient. This consideration over the physical identities of individuals based on race should not be assumed as a form of discrimination.

There are instances however when the information on racial identity is used in a mistaken procedure. It is rather considered highly discriminative to use such information to put one individual in a distinctive position of not being able to gain proper attention from the institution where they are supposed to be admitted. This is a specific case of not adhering to the oath of the medical practitioners and the medical institutions themselves hence putting the entire team under considerable sanctions of ethical anomalies. This insists then that information about racial identity should be used efficiently by medical practitioners especially when it comes to dealing with the manner by which they handle the needs of their patients regardless of the racial division they belong to.


Scotch, Norman A (1963), “Medical Anthropology”, in Bernard J. Siegel, Biennial Review of Anthropology, 3, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, pp. 30–68.