*(Via Salon) – “No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in health care?” wrote the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in a tweet promoting its podcast in early March 2020.
In the podcast, Dr. Ed. Livingston, a white male surgeon and JAMA Deputy Editor, dismissed the concept of structural racism, protesting, “many of us (physicians) are offended by the concept that we are racist.” Backlash to the since-deleted tweet and the podcast was so swift that Livingston subsequently resigned from his post.
Livingston’s sentiments naively suggest that a medical degree inoculates physicians from racism. It clings to the mistaken notion that racism only harms Black patients when actively schemed. This view flies in the face of countless studies, many appearing in JAMA itself, demonstrating widespread barriers to health care for Black patients from basic preventive services to cutting-edge treatments. Worst of all, it obscures how stubborn racist legacies reinvent themselves.
Indeed, even today, modern-day segregation within hospitals kills Black patients, as statistics have shown.
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Take surgery for instance, commonly performed on older adults. Earlier analyses reveal that the mortality rate for common surgical procedures can be 35% or more higher among Black patients as opposed to white patients. These disparities are commonly linked to a history of redlining that has left Black communities disproportionately served by poorer hospitals. Even when elite hospitals are in Black communities, their patients tend to be disproportionally white.
But what if those inequalities are removed? To investigate this, we analyzed national Medicare claims from older beneficiaries who underwent heart bypass surgery, a complex and technical procedure. Our worrying results, published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, identified two issues.
This article on segregation in hospitals continues at Salon via MSN News.