Editorials Address AMA’s Recent Apology to Black Doctors for Past Discrimination
Summaries appear below of editorials that address the American Medical Association's apology last week to black doctors for past racial discrimination in the medical field.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The "hope is that disparities in health care between blacks and whites can be closed" now that AMA is "committed to reversing its legacy" of discriminating against black doctors, a Post-Gazette editorial states. "For the better part of the last century, the AMA unofficially excluded African-American doctors from its ranks" and "that had a profound effect on health care and how it was practiced in minority communities," the editorial adds. "As a result, the AMA violated the 'do no harm' spirit of the Hippocratic Oath. Harm was done not only to individuals who got substandard care, but also to society in general," according to the editorial. "In the decades that Jim Crow was allowed to wear a stethoscope, disparities in health care between blacks and whites in America increased unabated." The editorial concludes that the group's commitment to recruit more black doctors is a "noble goal" that "will come about only when physicians themselves begin to heal the wounds of racism" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/15).
Wilmington News Journal: AMA's apology "is a window of opportunity" to make progress in "medical science, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender of the nation's patients," a News Journal editorial states. AMA's "unofficial" policy led to "an entrenched history of medical science and practice that is directly attributable to the documented evidence of health care disparities affecting the black population," according to the News Journal. The editorial adds that "critical information tied to the genetics and cultural lifestyle of patients was prevented from being freely exchanged in a profession that vows to do no harm by its actions." Ultimately, the group's actions "closed the door to the necessary professional collegiality that advances and spreads the benefits of scientific progress," according to the News Journal. The News Journal adds that the apology could help "reduce racial disparities in medicine and to recruit more blacks to become doctors and to join the AMA" (Wilmington News Journal, 7/14).
NPR's "Tell Me More" on Monday included an interview with Ronald Davis, immediate past president of AMA, and Carl Bell, a black physician ("Tell Me More," NPR, 7/14). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.