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John Oliver, Larry David and Wanda Sykes Give Medical Bias the Last Week Tonight Treatment

2 minute read

John Oliver, Wanda Sykes, and Larry David teamed up to help fight reported bias in medical care on Sunday night’s Last Week Tonight.

According to Oliver, several studies have shown that bias among doctors leads to a “woman-shaped blind spot in medicine.” For example, researchers found that women are seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed when they are having a heart attack. He also cited a study that claimed that medical bias against people of color resulted in 83,000 needless deaths within the black community.

The U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world and the rate is worse for black women, reportedly because doctors and nurses sometimes don’t believe them when it comes to pain or symptoms. “We are disbelieving black women to death,” Oliver argues.

Wanda Sykes came on the show to lay out a three-point plan for improving the situation. First, she recommended doctors under go bias training. Then she said diversity was needed at real hospitals, “not just the ones made up by Shonda Rimes.” Finally, she urged patients to advocate for themselves and if that doesn’t work, to “bring a white man to repeat everything that you’re saying.”

For those who don’t know where to get a white man, Sykes suggested the website WhatsLarrysProblem.com where Larry David has recorded messages for any medical situation—as well as those magical words for anyone seeking help: “I’d like to speak to your supervisor.”

See the video above.

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