The movement to remove race from medicine

Physicians, scientists and policymakers are starting a conversation about when to remove race from certain medical metrics and to understand where using race is beneficial, Kaiser Health News reported June 13.

While it is widely accepted that race is a social construct and not a biological difference, it is still used as a shorthand in medicine. While race is important to consider when providing culturally competent care, it is imprecise when used to diagnose and treat patients.  

Some medical bodies have already started changing policies regarding race, including obstetricians who removed race from the equation of a woman's ability to give birth vaginally after a previous C-section as well as pediatricians who stopped using a calculation that said black children were less likely to get urinary tract infections. A national committee also recently ruled that race has no place in determining kidney function. 

"History is being written right now that this is not the right thing to do and that the path forward is to use race responsibly and not to do it in the way that we've been doing in the past," said Nwamaka Eneanya, MD, a nephrologist with Fresenius Medical Care.

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