The American Medical Association has sent a letter to Delta Air Lines calling on the airline to “reaffirm its commitment to eliminating bias at all levels of the company,” after an incident in which an African-American doctor’s credentials were questioned when she came to the aid of a passenger.
The letter, sent last week, came after an incident earlier this month when Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, a leading obesity specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, assisted a passenger on a Boston-bound flight.
“Again we ask that Delta use this latest incident as a teachable moment for its personnel, including those working as connection partners on Delta flights, to remind them of the harm posed by implicit bias — that is, attitudes or stereotypes that can affect our understanding, actions or decisions in an unconscious manner,” the letter said.
The letter was signed by Dr. James L. Madara, AMA chief executive and executive vice president, and Dr. Jack Resneck Jr., chairman of the AMA board of trustees.
The letter said racial bias can be dangerous in a health emergency, “when every second counts.”
The AMA called the questions the flight attendants asked Stanford “humiliating.”
“Just as the AMA is committed to ending implicit bias as it exists in medicine, so too must Delta reaffirm its commitment to eliminating bias at all levels of the company, and continue to promote the values of diversity and inclusion that are so important in our nation,” the letter said.
Stanford was on a flight operated by a Delta Connection partner, Republic Airline, when a passenger sitting next her started to convulse in her seat. During Stanford’s attempt to care for the woman, two flight attendants approached her and asked for her credentials more than once.
The AMA officials said they were “disheartened to hear of yet another incident” and “had hoped the airline’s policy changes and mandatory diversity training might prevent such unfortunate encounters in the future.”
In 2016, another African-American physician, Dr. Tamika Cross, was also asked for her credentials prior to helping a passenger in need on a Delta flight.
E-mails seeking comment from Stanford and Delta Air Lines were not immediately returned.