The head of one of the country’s most important medical journals resigned after its publication hosted a February podcast that sparked a tremendous reaction by minimizing structural racism in medicine.
The American Medical Association announced Tuesday that Dr. Howard Bauchner will resign voluntarily as editor-in-chief of JAMA and JAMA Network in effect June 30. He had been on administrative leave since March while the AMA investigated the origins of a podcast and a related tweet that said no doctor is racist.
In a statement, Bauchner said he was “deeply disappointed” in himself by the lapses that led to the publication of the podcast and the tweet.
“Even if I haven’t written or even seen the tweet, nor created the podcast, as editor-in-chief, I’m ultimately responsible for them,” Bauchner said. “I share and have always supported the WADA’s commitment to dismantling structural racism in American medical institutions, as evidenced by numerous publications in JAMA on this issue and related topics, and look forward to contributing personally. to this work ahead. “
The February 24 podcast episode called “Structural Racism for Doctors: What Is It?” presented a discussion between Dr. Edward Livingston’s Assistant Editor and Dr. Mitchell Katz, editor at JAMA Internal Medicine and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals.
During the conversation, Livingston, who resigned after Bauchner’s request, called structural racism “an unfortunate term.”
“I personally think taking racism out of the conversation will help,” he said. “Many of us are offended by the concept that we are racists.”
A recently deleted tweet promoting the podcast said, “No doctor is racist, so how can there be structural racism in medicine?”
On March 4, Bauchner apologized and said the tweet and “portions of the podcast” did not reflect his commitment as the editorial head of JAMA and JAMA Network “to call and discuss the adverse effects of the injustice, injustice and racism in medicine and society as JAMA has done for years. ”
AMA CEO Dr. James Madara tried to separate his organization from the podcast and tweet in a Post March 10th in which he said the oversight committee of the independent WADA newspaper was investigating the circumstances that led to it. He said the committee has hired firm Zuber Lawler to ensure objectivity and integrity in the review.
It is unclear at what stage the magazine is, or whether the results will be made public. The AMA did not even say whether anyone else left JAMA because of the incident.
Numerous doctors and others were outraged. The Institute for Antiracism in Medicine has called for an independent investigation into Bauchner’s leadership in JAMA in a open letter to WADA Board of Trustees of May. The group circulated a Change.org petition that asked JAMA to take steps to address its failed message to the medical community, including hiring an assistant editor with a focus on anti-racism and health equity, and the planning of municipal sessions on the subject. The petition currently has more than 9,000 signatures.
Dr. Brittani James, co-founder of IAM and a physician working on Chicago’s South Side, said she is encouraged to leave Bauchner but is still eager to see the results of the WADA investigation and learn how the the organization specifically plans to address racism in JAMA.
“I’m excited about what he leaves that post can open in terms of replacement,” James said.
After the IAM posted its letter to the AMA, several people working at JAMA shared their experiences with the group’s leaders on racism in the publication.
“A lot of people were literally too scared to go to the record,” he said, “but some of the things we heard were extremely damaging to the JAMA publishing process.”
For example, a person, who asked to remain anonymous, said the IAM that Bauchner did not allow the word “racism” to be used in the newspaper for fear of losing readers, which nearly caused a lead writer to retire a bit in 2016.
Bauchner has led JAMA since 2011. During that time, he launched four new journals, including JAMA Health Forum this year, and developed his social media thereafter.
Phil Fontanarosa, executive editor of JAMA, will serve as interim editor-in-chief while the AMA forms a research committee to identify Bauchner’s replacement. Dr. Otis Brawley, a Johns Hopkins University professor who has twice chaired the research committee for the editor-in-chief of Cancer magazine, will chair the JAMA research committee.