- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 30, 2021

An attempt by the American Medical Association to get healthcare workers to use “racially-equitable” language is being assailed as unethical and potentially dangerous.

Several conservative researchers and lawmakers with ties to the medical profession are rejecting the “woke” guidelines recently issued jointly by the AMA and American Association of Medical Colleges.

Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow at the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research, warned that the guidelines further inflame racial divisions in the U.S.

“One of the first thoughts that came into my mind is that this is a violation of the Hippocratic oath which says all physicians must do no harm,” Mr. Cohen told The Washington Times.

The guidelines, which came out in October, include avoiding terms such as “Caucasian” and including references to past oppression when discussing health trends among Native Americans.

“This document could have been written by George Orwell as a parody of health care,” Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus and former chief of obstetric anesthesiology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and medical officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

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He said race should not be injected into medical care.

“As physicians, we just have to continue treating every patient using our best judgment regardless of their background or skin color, as physicians in America have been doing for decades,” Mr. Harris said.

However, Philip Alberti, the American Association of Medical Colleges’ senior director of health equity research and policy, told The Times the idea of the guide was to “create reflection and not rules.”

Mr. Alberti said the U.S. has made progress in addressing racism, but the fact that minorities are dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than White people shows that there are still racial inequities.

“We’ve watched a whole new kind of inequity develop before our eyes,” he said.

For instance, Mr. Alberti said that stating that Native Americans are more likely to die from certain conditions like lung cancer and heart disease than White people, leaves the impression that the reason is some failing by Native Americans.

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Bringing up the past reflects that other things are at play, he said.

The report makes the same point, instructing medical professionals to rethink saying or writing things like: “Low-income people have the highest level of coronary artery disease in the United States.”

Rather, the report said, they should say: “People underpaid and forced into poverty as a result of banking policies, real estate developers gentrifying neighborhoods, and corporations weakening the power of labor movements, among others, have the highest level of coronary artery disease in the United States.”

The report also recommends that health care workers should not use terms such as Caucasian, which it said has “remained in many people’s vocabulary, despite the well-documented racist origins of the term.”

The report noted that the term was created in the 18th century by German anatomist Johann Blumenbach, who declared that those living by the Caucasus Mountains were “‘the most beautiful in the world,’ an ideal type of human based on ‘God’s image,’ and extended that category to include all light-skinned peoples from this region and Europe.”

• Kery Murakami can be reached at kmurakami@washingtontimes.com.

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