JAMA Editor Placed on Leave Following Racial Controversy

Following controversial feedback on racism in drugs made by a deputy editor at JAMA, the editor in chief of the outstanding medical journal was positioned on administrative depart on Thursday.

A committee of the American Medical Affiliation, which oversees the journal, mentioned Dr. Howard Bauchner would get replaced by an interim editor pending outcomes of an unbiased investigation. The choice was introduced on Thursday in an electronic mail to staff.

JAMA is likely one of the world’s main medical journals, publishing analysis that shapes the scientific agenda and public coverage across the globe. The controversy started when Dr. Ed Livingston, a deputy editor, mentioned on a Feb. 24 podcast that structural racism not existed in the USA.

“Structural racism is an unlucky time period,” mentioned Dr. Livingston, who’s white. “Personally, I feel taking racism out of the dialog will assist. Many individuals like myself are offended by the implication that we’re by some means racist.”

The podcast was promoted with a tweet from the journal that mentioned, “No doctor is racist, so how can there be structural racism in well being care?” The response to each was swift and indignant, prompting the journal to take down the podcast and delete the tweet.

Every week later, Dr. Bauchner addressed the controversy. “Feedback made within the podcast have been inaccurate, offensive, hurtful, and inconsistent with the requirements of JAMA,” Dr. Bauchner mentioned in a statement. “We’re instituting adjustments that can deal with and forestall such failures from occurring once more.”

Dr. Livingston later resigned. On Thursday night time, officers at JAMA didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Many within the medical neighborhood mentioned that the journal had not gone far sufficient and that the occasions provided an opportunity to make extra systemic adjustments. In an electronic mail despatched to leaders of the A.M.A., a bunch of medical doctors referred to as for “a cautious investigation of the JAMA editorial workers and board, as much as and together with the removing of Dr. Howard Bauchner.”

The authors additionally initiated a petition, now signed by practically 7,000 folks, asking the journal to carry Dr. Bauchner accountable and to evaluation and restructure the editorial course of.

“It’s not simply that this podcast is problematic — it’s that there’s a lengthy and documented historical past of institutional racism at JAMA,” mentioned Dr. Brittani James, a Black doctor who practices on the South Facet of Chicago and who helped start the petition.

“That podcast ought to by no means have occurred,” mentioned Dr. Uché Blackstock, an emergency doctor in New York. “That tweet ought to by no means have occurred. The truth that podcast was conceived of, recorded and posted was unconscionable.”

“I feel it prompted an incalculable quantity of ache and trauma to Black physicians and sufferers,” she mentioned. “And I feel it’s going to take a very long time for the journal to heal that ache.”

Lately, different outstanding journals have needed to reckon with their roles in perpetuating racism in drugs. In January, Alan Weil, editor in chief of Well being Affairs, acknowledged that the journal’s “workers and management are overwhelmingly white and economically privileged,” and he dedicated to reviewing its editorial course of.

Within the electronic mail to JAMA staff, Dr. James L. Madara, chief govt of the American Medical Affiliation, promised that its investigation would probe “how the podcast and related tweet have been developed, reviewed, and in the end printed,” and mentioned that the A.M.A. had engaged unbiased investigators to make sure objectivity.

He didn’t provide a date for conclusion of the investigation.

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