“Are you a real M.D.?” Delta Flight Attendant Asks Black Doctor Trying to Help Sick Passenger

Doctor Trying to help sick passenger

Courtesy: Delta Air Lines

“Are you a real M.D.?” Delta Flight Attendant Asks Black Doctor Trying to Help Sick Passenger

You may remember two years ago when a woman on a Delta flight trying to help a fellow sick passenger was told they didn’t need her help after asking for a medical professional.  Well, it seems that on another Delta flight something similar allegedly happened.  A woman alleges that a Delta flight crew didn’t believe she was a doctor when she tried to help a sick passenger.

Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford alleges that she was discriminated against by the flight attendants on Delta Flight 5395.  The doctor alleges that the passenger next to her began to hyperventilate and Dr. Stanford attempted to provide medical care.  She said she showed her medical license before being asked.  But a flight attendant came up to her to ask her if she was a doctor.  A second flight attendant then approached Dr. Stanford as she was trying to calm the passenger.  The second flight attendant sought clarification, asking Dr. Stanford if she was “a real M.D.”

Dr. Stanford tweeted and posted on Instagram about the incident:


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@delta Where have we come since 2016? @fstanfordmd who happens to not only be a friend of mine, but also a well accomplished doctor, was on your flight DL5935 on 10/30/18 and despite showing her medical license, still was not believed to be a doctor. I wish that flight attendant knew about the 4 degrees, 67 page CV, hundreds of accolades, and current position she holds at #harvardmedicalschool . Not that she should have to present all the things that make her one of the nations top doctors and specialists, your #flightattendant and his/her bias prevented this well qualified physician from helping on a flight. In 2016, you did not believe I looked like a doctor either. Hundreds of thousands of us across this country and even in other countries banded together to show you #whatadoctorlookslike but here we stand JUST 2 years later and your employees have not learned. Your initial argument was that I did not have a medical license in my pocket to prove who I was. After much research and meetings and conversations you realized how outdated that policy was. On December 1, 2016 that policy was changed and providers do NOT have to show proof before allowing to respond to emergencies on the plane. Well why is it that my friend here SHOWED HER MEDICAL LICENSE and that still was not proof enough to you that she was a physician? This is deplorable and we need answers! Dr Cody Stanford, thank you for all that you do. I am deeply saddened you had to go through this! #blackphysicians #femaledoctors #delta #blackgirlmagic #implicitbias #physician #blackwomendoctors

A post shared by Tamika K. Cross, MD (@tcross_md) on


Dr. Stanford received an email from Delta after tweeting them about the incident.   Dr. Stanford told NBC News, “I was infuriated by the whole experience.”  Dr. Stanford recently invited Dr. Cross to a conference to discuss bias in medicine.  Dr. Stanford believes her incident is very similar to the one experienced by Dr. Cross almost exactly two years ago.

The incident took place on Delta’s regional partners, Republic Air.  A Delta spokesman told NBC News, “We thank Dr. Stanford for her medical assistance on board Republic flight 5935 IND-BOS, and are sorry for any misunderstanding that may have occurred during her exchange with the in-flight crew.  Moving forward, we are following up with our connection carrier partner to ensure their employees understand and consistently apply the policy.”



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