Lead JAMA editor on leave amid investigation of controversial podcast episode

Howard Bauchner, MD, editor-in-chief at the Journal of the American Medical Association, is on administrative leave after another journal editor said structural racism isn't a problem in medicine on a podcast episode, The New York Times reported March 25. 

The American Medical Association's Journal Oversight Committee announced the decision to place Dr. Bauchner on leave in an email sent to employees March 25 as it conducts an investigation. 

The decision comes after JAMA's deputy editor, Ed Livingston, MD, dismissed structural racism in a Feb. 24 podcast episode later promoted on the journal's Twitter account. 

"Structural racism is an unfortunate term," Dr. Livingston said in the podcast. "Personally, I think taking racism out of the conversation will help. Many people like myself are offended by the implication that we are somehow racist." 

Dr. Livingston has since resigned, the Times reported. 

"No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in healthcare?" JAMA said in a now deleted tweet promoting the episode. 

Dr. Bauchner addressed the comments in a statement shared on JAMA's Clinical Reviews podcast page: "Comments made in the podcast were inaccurate, hurtful and inconsistent with the standards of JAMA. Racism and structural racism exist in the U.S. and in healthcare. After careful consideration, I determined that the harms caused by the podcast outweighed any reason for the podcast to remain available on the JAMA Network." 

A petition signed by nearly 7,000 people called for more action to be taken, including a "formal review of the leadership displayed by Dr. Howard Bauchner as editor-in-chief." 

The AMA's email update said it would evaluate "how the podcast and associated tweet were developed, reviewed and ultimately published." 

To read the full New York Times article, click here. 

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