Delta Airlines Changes Its Policies On In-Flight Medical Care After Discriminating Against A Black, Female Doctor

Delta Airlines has made some changes to its policies on in-flight medical care following an incident from October in which a black, female doctor was treated condescendingly and not allowed to treat a sick patient.

As MSN reports, back in October, Houston OB-GYN Tamika Cross, who is black, was on a Delta flight from Detroit to Houston when a passenger became unresponsive.

As. Dr. Cross approached the ailing passenger to render aid, she said she was stopped by a Delta flight attendant. Making matters worse, she says the way the attendant dismissed her was indescribably condescending.

“[Oh] no sweetie put ur hand down, we are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, we don’t have time to talk to you.”

The implication, as far as Dr. Cross saw it, was that she was dismissively told not to help because she was black and female, and the Delta staff assumed she couldn’t possibly be a doctor. When she insisted that she was a doctor, the flight attendant demanded her credentials.

As Cross points out, physicians don’t always carry their medical licenses and/or hospital I.D. badges on them, especially when they’re traveling.

Making matters worse, when another passenger that day – a white male – approached the ailing passenger, he told the flight attendant he was a doctor and was allowed to treat the passenger.

“Thanks for your help but he can help us, and he has his credentials.”

Cross says the Delta staff took the white male’s word for it and didn’t demand to see his credentials. Delta, however, disputed that, saying at the time that the white male doctor did, indeed show his credentials.

After landing, Dr. Cross took to Facebook to share her story. Her post quickly went viral, and the incident drew international headlines, as well as intense criticism aimed at Delta, according to The New York Times. Several women and/or people of color read her story of discrimination and revealed how they had been treated dismissively in their professions by people who assume they don’t know what they’re doing.

Iniece Crawford: “Tamika, I know exactly how you feel, when people don’t want your help, because of the color of your skin. I go through this on a regular basis and I’m just a pharmacy associate. They assume that I don’t know what I’m doing or don’t want to deal with me at all, but have to.”

On Wednesday, Delta Airlines announced that it has changed its policy regarding in-flight medical care, and doctors will no longer be asked to prove their credentials when attending to sick passengers.

“As part of the review, Delta found that there is no legal or regulatory requirement upon the airline to view medical professional credentials. And, as it becomes more and more common for medical licenses to be verified online, physicians and nurses often do not carry a license with them and some states no longer issue wallet versions.”

Dr. Cross, for her part, was even invited to meet personally with Delta executives, She brought her friend and colleague, Dr. Wayne Riley, to the meeting. He has treated sick passengers on airplanes, and Dr. Riley said he has never once been made to show his credentials.

At the end of the day, Dr. Cross is pleased with Delta’s change of heart.

“Although this was an unfortunate encounter, I am pleased with the changes that have been made to Delta’s policies and training as a result.”

Do you believe Delta Airlines made the right decision in not requiring doctors to show their credentials before treating sick passengers?

[Featured Image by Tupungato/Shutterstock]