­Do No Harm joins lawsuit to challenge California’s mandatory implicit bias training in healthcare

Today, Do No Harm and Dr. Marilyn Singleton joined Dr. Azadeh Khatibi in a lawsuit challenging California’s mandatory implicit bias training for physicians to restore free speech in medical training.

Azadeh Khatibi, et al. v. Kristina Lawson, et. al, filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation, challenges mandate AB 241 passed by California lawmakers in 2019, which requires all continuing medical education (CME) courses involving direct patient care to include implicit bias training.

“Physicians have free will and act in the best interest of their patients,” said Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, Do No Harm Chairman. “The idea of unconscious bias states that one acts on those biases, and there’s no evidence of this happening in the medical community. Medical professionals take the Hippocratic oath to do no harm, and do not need lawmakers or medical organizations to tell them what they should think when providing medical advice to patients.”

According to the lawsuit, continuing medical education instructors in California are required to adopt an ideology that is unpersuasive nor unsupported by evidence to presume all healthcare providers are infected with implicit bias and thus treat patients differently.

“The implicit bias requirement promotes the inaccurate belief that white individuals are naturally racist,” said Dr. Marilyn Singleton, a visiting fellow of the Do No Harm organization and California anesthesiologist who teaches continuing medical education courses in California. “This message can be detrimental to medical professionals and their patients as it creates an atmosphere of suspicion and animosity, which goes against the fundamental principle of doing no harm.”

All California physicians must log 50 CME hours every two years as a condition of license renewal. This is a growing trend across the country as more states require implicit bias training as a condition for obtaining and retaining medical and nursing licenses.

“Physicians should base medical care on each patient’s individual situation and condition,” said Caleb Trotter, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “Implicit bias training does the opposite, telling doctors they should be concerned about a patient’s immutable characteristics like race, gender, and sexual orientation, regardless of the characteristics’ relevance to the patient’s treatment.”

The case Azadeh Khatibi, et al. v. Kristina Lawson, et. al, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. 

About Do No Harm

Do No Harm is a diverse group of physicians, healthcare professionals, medical students, patients, and policymakers united by a moral mission: Protect healthcare from a radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideology. They believe in making healthcare better for all – not undermining it in pursuit of a political agenda. Learn more at www.donoharmmedicine.org