Everyone involved in health care can agree on two truths: First, many minority populations have unequal access to care. Second, therefore, they often have disparate health outcomes.
Yet acknowledging these truths does not lead to LaShyra Nolen’s conclusion that health care should be “anti-racist” (“Woke Medicine Does Not Mean Worse Medicine,” Ideas, September 11). In practice, what Nolen is calling for could lead to deliberately discriminatory health care on the basis of race – a false remedy.
To see what anti-racism means, consider the pilot anti-racism program that two Harvard Medical School professors announced last year at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. They pledged to offer a “preferred admission option” to certain minority patients, requiring overt discrimination based on skin color. Write broadly, anti-racism would embed this dangerous and divisive practice throughout health care. Patients could be denied or delayed treatment, not because of their medical needs, but because of their race.
By all means, let us break down the barriers that prevent many minorities from accessing care. But let’s not push the vital institution of health care toward racial discrimination of any kind and the resulting harm.
Dr. Stanley Goldfarb
Bryn Mawr, Pa.
The writer is president of the advocacy group Do No Harm and former associate dean of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
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