For years, pediatricians have followed erroneous guidelines linking race to risk of urinary tract infections and neonatal jaundice. In a new policy announced on Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics said it is scrutinizing all of its recommendations to eliminate “racial” medicine and resulting health disparities.
According to Dr. Joseph Wright, lead author of the new policy and principal equity specialist in the University of Maryland Medical System.
The influential academy began to purge outdated advice. The company is committed to scrutinizing “the entire catalogue,” including manuals, tutorials, tutorials, and newsletters, Wright said.
“We’re really much more rigorous in how we assess disease risk and health outcomes,” Wright said. “We really need to be held accountable for this. It will take hard work.”
Dr. Brittany James, family medicine physician and medical director of the Chicago Medical Center, said the academy is taking a big step.
“What makes this so monumental is the fact that this is a medical facility and it’s not just words. They work,” James said.
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In recent years, other major medical groups, including the American Medical Association, have made similar commitments. They are driven in part by the civil rights and social justice movements, and by science showing the important role of social conditions, genetics, and other biological factors in determining health.
Last year, the academy dropped a calculation based on the unproven idea that black children are at lower risk of urinary tract infections than white children. The review found that the strongest risk factors were prior urinary tract infections and a fever lasting more than 48 hours, not a race, Wright said.
A revision of the guidelines for neonatal jaundice is scheduled this summer, Wright said, which currently suggests that certain races have a higher and lower risk.
Dr. Nia Hurd-Harris, head of the Academic Minority Health and Equity Group and pediatrician at Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital, noted that the new policy includes a brief history of “how some of our commonly used clinical aids became the way they are – through pseudoscience and racism.” .
Whatever the intentions, these aids have caused harm to patients, she said.
“It violates our oath as doctors — to do no harm — and as such should not be used,” Hurd-Harris said.
Dr. Valerie Walker, specialist in neonatal care and health equity at the National Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, called the new policy a “critical step” towards narrowing racial disparities in health.
The Academy encourages other medical institutions and specialized groups to take a similar approach in their work to eradicate racism in medicine.
“We can’t just plug one leak in a pipe full of holes and expect it to be fixed,” Hurd-Harris said. “This announcement sheds light on how pediatricians and other healthcare providers can find and patch these holes.”