Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford said she was on a Delta Air Lines flight into Boston Tuesday night when she noticed that a passenger next to her was in distress.
Stanford, who is an African American physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, said she was helping the passenger when her medical credentials were questioned by several flight attendants, even after she showed the flight attendants her medical license.
"She is a highly sought after, highly talented physician," said Dr. Michael Sinha, a research fellow at Harvard Medical School. "She has two residencies and two fellowships under her belt."
Shortly after the incident, Stanford sent several tweets about it.
"As a black woman doctor who showed my medical license to help a passenger on DL5935 your flight attendant still did not believe I was a physician," she said in one tweet.
In a statement, Delta said, "We thank Dr. Stanford for her medical assistance on board Republic flight 5935 IN D-BOS, and are sorry for any misunderstanding that may have occurred during her exchange with the in-flight crew."
Sinha is an advocate for gender equity with degrees in medicine and law who works with Stanford through the American Medical Association and the Massachusetts Medical Society.
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"Myself and a couple of my colleagues really want this to become a national issue and to have this conversation again," he said.
Sinha also said Standford participated in a bias-in-medicine symposium just over a week ago, with her friend, Dr. Tamika Cross — a black OB-GYN who also accused Delta of discrimination in 2016, which sparked the hashtag #whatadoctorlookslike.
After the 2016 incident, Delta stopped requiring attendants to verify medical credentials.
Shilpa Pherwani is CEO of Interactive Business Inclusion Solutions, which works with companies to provide employees with diversity and implicit bias training.
The company is currently working with another major airline to audit its diversity policies.
"Really look at training, that gets to how you are recruiting and hiring," Pherwani said. "How you do career development. How you're giving performance evaluations, feedback, how do you develop your people, is it an equitable environment?"
In another tweet, Stanford said she spoke with Delta, which promised to address the incident and thanked her for being a Sky Miles member. She is unsure whether any further changes will be made.
Delta also said the plane on which the incident occurred is operated by Republic, a Delta Connection carrier.
"We are proud of Dr. Stanford for immediately coming to the aid of an ailing passenger but are dismayed that her credentials and qualifications were questioned," Massachusetts General Hospital President Peter L. Slavin said in a statement.