JAMA Editor Apologizes for Tweet Saying ‘No Physician Is Racist’

The Journal of the American Medical Association’s editor-in-chief apologized on Thursday for a tweet and podcast from the publication that questioned the existence of systemic racism in health care.

“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 of injustice, inequity, and racism in medicine and society as JAMA has done for many years. I take responsibility for these lapses and sincerely apologize for both the lapses and the harm caused by both the tweet and some aspects of the podcast,” Howard Bauchner, the journal’s editor, said in a statement.

Earlier on Thursday, the JAMA Twitter account promoted a podcast with the question, “No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in healthcare?” The podcast episode also included the description, “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.”

The tweet was later deleted after facing backlash on social media and from other members of the medical community.

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The CEO of the American Medical Association, James Madara, also issued a statement on Thursday to say he was “deeply disturbed” and “angered” by the 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,” Madara said. “JAMA has editorial independence from AMA, but this tweet and podcast are inconsistent with the policies and views of AMA and I’m concerned about and acknowledge the harms they have caused. Structural racism in health care and our society exists and it is incumbent on all of us to fix it.”

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