Despite the fact that African-Americans suffer from a variety of health problems at disproportionately higher rates than whites, inequities in the medical system make access to care more difficult for minorities. The problem of racial disparities in health care encompasses more than problems of access or payment, however. Communication difficulties between physician and patient and disparate provision of services covered by insurance also may contribute substantially to health disparities between the races. This review canvasses some of the evidence of differential medical treatment and offers some suggestions that may improve the quality of communication between physicians and patients. In addition to considering the usefulness of the cultural competence movement in the health profession and its connection to the requirement of informed consent, this review calls for an increased commitment to diversity in medical education, and it considers how an often-ignored component of the informed consent doctrine may serve to redress cases of individual discrimination in health care.
2002 U. Ill. L. Rev. 121 (2002)