Posted on March 5, 2021

JAMA Apologizes and Deletes Tweet That Questioned Racism in Medicine

Nicole Lyn Pesce, Market Watch, March 4, 2021

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) issued an apology over a now-deleted tweet on Thursday that questioned whether structural racism exists in medicine.


The tweet that set off the firestorm on Thursday was promoting a Feb. 23 podcast hosted by JAMA and entitled “Structural Racism for Doctors—What Is It?” The episode featured host Dr. Ed Livingston, the deputy editor for clinical reviews and education at JAMA, and Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and chief executive officer of NYC Health + Hospitals, discussing structural racism. “Many physicians are skeptical of structural racism, the idea that economic, educational, and other social systems preferentially disadvantage Black Americans and other communities of color,” reads the episode description.

The now-deleted post from JAMA’s official Twitter account pushing the podcast doubled-down on that skepticism: “No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in healthcare?” it asked. And that sparked outrage among some followers, including many who identified themselves as doctors. {snip}


James Madara, the CEO of the American Medical Association, said he was “disturbed” and “angered” by the JAMA tweet and podcast.

The AMA’s House of Delegates passed policy stating that racism is structural, systemic, cultural, and interpersonal and we are deeply disturbed—and angered—by a recent JAMA podcast that questioned the existence of structural racism and the affiliated tweet that promoted the podcast and stated ‘no physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in health care?’” he wrote in a statement shared on Thursday afternoon. “Structural racism in health care and our society exists and it is incumbent on all of us to fix it.”

The JAMA account deleted the tweet, and then proceeded to tweet out other articles that appeared to show its support for equality, such as one post that read, “5 actions to eliminate racial injustice in medicine, health disparities in the US.” {snip}

Dr. Howard Bauchen, JAMA’s editor in chief, tweeted a statement on Thursday afternoon in which he said that “the language of the tweet, as well as portions of the podcast, do not reflect my commitment as editorial leader of JAMA and JAMA Network to call out and discuss the adverse effects injustice, inequity, and racism in medicine and society as JAMA has done for many years.”