In an op-ed published in the American Journal of Nursing, renowned actor and humanitarian Angelina Jolie highlights on the abiding racial bias in medical research and care. Her focus centers on the detection and diagnosis of injuries in patients with darker skin tones. As a mother of children from diverse racial backgrounds, Jolie draws from personal experiences to underscore the urgent need for change.
Exploring a Revolutionary Solution: Non-biased Forensic Technology
Delving into her exploration of potential solutions, Jolie recounts her visit to forensic nurse Katherine N. Scafide’s laboratory. Here, Scafide demonstrated a handheld device that utilizes “alternate light” to detect bruises, making them visible long after the initial injury occurred. This groundbreaking technique, boasting five times the effectiveness of conventional methods, presents a revolutionary approach to identifying and documenting injuries, particularly for domestic abuse survivors with dark skin tones.
Outdated Practices: The Limitations of Natural Light and Visual Inspection
Jolie highlights the alarming reality that bruise detection and diagnosis still rely on outdated practices, primarily natural light and visual inspection. This approach fails to recognize injuries in abuse survivors with darker complexions, rendering them barely visible to the naked eye. As a result, BIPOC face significant barriers in accessing crucial legal protection, physical and mental health treatment, and justice.
Angelina Jolie Advocates for Change and Evidence Documentation
Recognizing the pivotal role nurses play, Jolie emphasizes their importance as frontline caregivers and advocates for abuse survivors. Beyond screening and counseling, nurses possess the power to educate patients and parents about anticipated changes in coloration and swelling. Additionally, they can facilitate evidence collection at appropriate intervals, ensuring a comprehensive and accurate record of injuries.
Driving Legislative Change: Non-biased Forensic Technology Grant Program
Building on her experiences and insights from experts, Jolie passionately advocates for the integration of a grant program for nonbiased forensic technology into the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022, now signed into law. This program aims to support healthcare professionals in their critical work and ensure widespread access to advanced technology for detecting and measuring injuries, regardless of an individual’s skin tone.
Addressing Racial Bias and Healthcare Disparities
Angelina Jolie ended her op-ed with a powerful call to action. She highlights the pressing need for change in medical care and research to confront racial bias and healthcare disparities head-on. By raising awareness and advocating for nonbiased forensic technology, Jolie emphasizes the importance of embracing innovative solutions and ensuring equitable and high-quality medical care for every individual, regardless of their race.
- Jolie, A. (2023) ‘Addressing Health Inequities in Survivors of Domestic Violence.’ American Journal of Nursing.
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