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A new perspective article published in CJASN examines how the use of race in calculating kidney function as well as other aspects of health can harm patients.

The authors – Richard E. Neal, Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, and Michelle Morse, MD, MPH, an internal medicine and public health doctor who studies global health justice, social medicine, and racial justice and was recently appointed to the Appointed first Chief Medical Officer for the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Explain that currently a modifier for the black race in the calculation of kidney health indicates that the black patient has higher kidney function. This could delay access to additional tests and treatments. Other examples of racial abuse in clinical algorithms exist in various areas of medicine.

Numerous institutions have decided to stop reporting on the race modifier used in kidney care because of these concerns. In response to letters from the Ways and Means Committee, medical societies have agreed that the use and abuse of race and ethnicity in clinical algorithms must be reevaluated in order to further investigate the unintended consequences of removing racial correctors. The authors argue that “this circular lack of accountability cannot continue”.

Neal and Morse stress that the medical community needs to be strengthened in order to reach consensus on how to proceed. “Data on race and ethnicity should be rigorously and consistently collected and used to measure the social and health effects of racism, not racial biological differences,” they wrote. “To this day, racial differences in results are often interpreted as biological differences rather than as a result of social and structural forces.”

The perspective is part of a collection of disparities and workforce diversity developed by CJASN.

It should be noted that the Agency for Research and Quality in Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health, requests information and evidence about clinical algorithms that can bias clinical decision-making and / or affect access to care or care health consequences for racial and ethnic minorities as well as for socio-economically disadvantaged people.

Researchers illustrate the need for anti-racism in kidney care, research

More information:
“Racial Health Inequalities and Clinical Algorithms: Time to Action,” CJASN, DOI: 10.2215 / CJN.01780221 Provided by the American Society of Nephrology

Quote: A Call to Action to Eliminate Racial Inequalities in Medical Testing (2021, March 5), accessed March 6, 2021 from

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