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The Editor Of A Leading Medical Journal Resigns Due To Remarks About "Structural Racism"
Racism

The Editor Of A Leading Medical Journal Resigns Due To Remarks About "Structural Racism"


The prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association's editor-in-chief will resign after the publication faced backlash following controversial comments made by another editor on a podcast.

Dr. Howard Bauchner, who has been the president of JAMA since 2011, and whose resignation will take effect on June 30, announced his decision in a statement on Tuesday. He had been on administrative leave since March while the American Medical Association investigated the matter.

Bauchner stated that he was "profoundly disappointed in myself for the lapses" that resulted in the JAMA Network airing a podcast episode and tweet that dismissed the existence of structural racism in the health care system.

“Although I did not write or even see the tweet, nor did I create the podcast, as editor in chief, I am ultimately responsible for them,” Bauchner stated in his statement.

“I share and have always supported the AMA’s commitment to dismantling structural racism in American medical institutions, as evidenced by numerous publications in JAMA on this and related topics, and I look forward to personally contributing to that work in the future,” he added.

Deputy editor Ed Livingston stated that structural racism no longer exists in the United States during the podcast episode that aired on February 24.

“‘Structural racism’ is an unfortunate term,” Livingston said, adding that “removing racism from the conversation will help.” “Many people, including myself, are offended by the implication that we are somehow racist.”

To promote the episode, JAMA issued a tweet that read, “No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in health care?” The tweet was later deleted, and Livingston resigned in March.

Dr. Stella Safo, a Black primary care physician at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, and her colleagues then launched a petition calling for a formal review of Bauchner's leadership, which had more than 9,000 signatures as of Tuesday. The petition also demanded that JAMA "schedule a series of town hall conversations with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color patients,..."

“This is a real moment for JAMA and the AMA to reinvent themselves from a founding history based on segregation and racism to one based on racial equity,” Safo told The New York Times.

The AMA's CEO and executive vice president, Dr. James Madara, announced last month that the organization would implement a three-year plan focused on "dismantling structural racism" in health care.

Madara expressed regret for the podcast and tweet, which “minimized the effects of systemic racism in health care and called its profound impact on millions of people across our country into question.”

“To be clear, structural racism exists in the United States and in medicine, genuinely affecting the health of all people, particularly people of color and others historically marginalized in society,” Madara wrote in his statement, adding, “This is not opinion or conjecture, it is proven in numerous studies, through science, and in the evidence.”

During the AMA's search for a replacement for Bauchner, the journal's executive editor, Phil Fontanarosa, will serve as interim editor-in-chief.

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