Since the spring when coronavirus first came to our shores, and throughout a tumultuous summer focused on the centuries-old mistreatments of Black and brown peoples culminating with the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, the plight of Black, indigenous, and people of color has entered the minds of many people in this country. There has been a renewal of focus on addressing issues of racism and discrimination within our societal institutions and also within the house of medicine.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 39 – No 11 – November 2020
This summer, editorial boards and authors who penned manuscripts have come under fire for publishing overtly sexist and racist material in the medical literature—studies that have subsequently been retracted.1,2 The indignities of 2020, a year that seems only superseded by the summer of 1968 in terms of national outrage, prompted me and my colleague Alden Landry to write, “We certainly cannot disrupt a racist culture as long as those at the top of the pecking order continue to maintain their dominance and exert their influence from behind the cloak of suits and ties.”3
Systemic racism has been present within this country and the house of modern medicine since their inceptions. Although the fight to remedy these evils has been ongoing for ages, the current generation appears poised and willing to continue the struggle begun by generations past. Correcting inequities cannot occur only in the political arena without additionally requiring change inside ourselves, including in our everyday doctor-patient interactions.
We all know racial disparities exist in the consideration and treatment of Black, indigenous, and other people of color within emergency departments, ranging from thrombolysis treatment to restraints for psychiatric patients to pain management for renal colic, so let us work at correcting them on our next shift.4–6
As this current Health Policy Journal Club column describes, it is up to us to be at the forefront for promoting “egalitarianism, social justice, and compassion” for every patient who entrusts us with their life regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation. To do anything less would discredit the oath we took as physicians to practice our art with uprightness and honor.
Dr. Dark is assistant professor of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and executive editor of PolicyRx.org.
- Hardouin S, Cheng TW, Mitchell EL, et al. Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons. J Vasc Surg. 2020;72(2):667-671.
- Wang NC. Diversity, inclusion, and equity: evolution of race and ethnicity considerations for the cardiology workforce in the United States of America from 1969 to 2019. J Am Heart Assoc. 2020;9(7):e015959.
- Landry A, Dark C. Only 6% of med school grads are black—here’s why that’s a major problem for the U.S. Courier Newsroom website. Accessed Oct. 6, 2020.
- Green AR, Carney DR, Pallin DJ, et al. Implicit bias among physicians and its prediction of thrombolysis decisions for black and white patients. J Gen Intern Med. 2007;22(9):1231-1238.
- Schnitzer K, Merideth F, Macias-Konstantopoulos W, et al. Disparities in care: the role of race on the utilization of physical restraints in the emergency setting. Acad Emerg Med. 2020;27(10):943-950.
- Berger AJ, Wang Y, Rowe C, et al. Racial disparities in analgesic use amongst patients presenting to the emergency department for kidney stones in the United States. Am J Emerg Med. 2020;S0735-6757(20)30017-6.