Antiracism effort in health care could itself lead to bias

Everyone involved in health care can agree on two truths: First, many minority populations have unequal access to care. Second, as a result, they often have disparate health outcomes.

Yet acknowledging these truths does not lead to LaShyra Nolen’s conclusion that health care must be “antiracist” (“Woke medicine doesn’t mean worse medicine,” Ideas, Sept. 11). In practice, what Nolen calls for could lead to health care that deliberately discriminates on the basis of race — a false cure.

To see what antiracism means, consider the antiracist pilot program that two Harvard Medical School professors announced last year at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. They pledged to provide a “preferential admission option” for certain minority patients, requiring overt discrimination by skin color. Writ large, antiracism would embed this divisive and dangerous practice across all of health care. Patients could be denied or delayed treatment, not because of their medical needs, but because of their race.

By all means, let’s break down barriers that prevent many minorities from accessing care. But let’s not push the life-saving institution of health care toward racial discrimination of any kind and the resulting damage it could entail.

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb
Bryn Mawr, Pa.

The writer is chairman of the advocacy group Do No Harm and former associate dean of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.