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New Training Program By AmeriHealth Caritas And March of Dimes Tries To Fight Implicit Bias In Health Care

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There is a crisis of pregnancy-related deaths for moms and babies that is especially bad in Philadelphia. According to the Health Department, maternal mortality in Philadelphia is a crisis for mainly Black women.

Poverty gets much of the blame, but doctors' attitudes are also an issue. That is what this new training program aims to change.

"I have two earthside children, and I have four heavenly children," Brittney Nix-Crawford said.

Nix-Crawford is grateful for the children she has and still mourns the four pregnancies she lost.

"It was very, very traumatic," Nix-Crawford said.

She says there were different reasons, but one constant was a dismissive doctor.

"If I was treated with empathy and compassion, I wouldn't suffer the trauma that has impaled my life ever since," she added.

Nix-Crawford thinks implicit bias was a big part of the problem.

"They make assumptions based on skin color, gender, race," is how Dr. Aasta Mehta from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health explained implicit bias.

Dr. Mehta is an OB-GYN who also works with the Philadelphia Health Department. "I have experienced bias all my life, I'm Indian," Dr. Mehta said.

Dr. Mehta says one example of implicit bias in medicine is an unfounded assumption that Black women feel less pain.

"Where that implicit bias comes out is, like, 'you're not really in labor or feeling that much pain. We can wait to get you your epidermal or pain management,'" Dr. Mehta said.

To help reduce health disparities and improve outcomes for Black mothers, AmeriHealth Caritas and the March of Dimes has a new implicit bias training program being offered to providers.

"The goal is to not have bias, it's to recognize when you have bias and be able to rein it in," Dr. Mehta said. "It's really eye-opening to confront these things that in your mind you don't realize you're doing."

Nix-Crawford hopes more doctors get the training. She has a different doctor now and feels more empowered - something she wants to share.

"To prevent any women to have to go through what I went through," she said.

Many companies have implicit bias training. This one is specifically aimed at maternal health care and the disparities Black women often face.

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