AMA Policy Calls on Medicine to Oppose Racism, Recognize It as a Public Health Threat
By David Doolittle


At a Special Meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates, the nation’s physicians confronted racism by adopting several policies that recognize it as a public health threat, commit AMA to dismantling racist policies and practices throughout health care, and recognize race as a social construct, not an inherent biological trait.

“Racism is detrimental in all its forms. This has been extensively researched,” said Luis Seija, MD, an internal medicine and pediatrics resident in New York who studied at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. “It’s time for our AMA to recognize that Black lives matter.”

Specifically, a policy approved Monday calls on all physicians, residents, and medical students nationwide to oppose racism in all forms, and for AMA to take steps to combat racism.

Delegates also voted to recognize police brutality as a manifestation of structural racism that disproportionately affects minorities. They directed AMA to work with state and local medical groups, like the Texas Medical Association and county medical societies, to support eliminating excessive use of force by law enforcement.

Debate was at times intense, particularly a section of a resolution that would’ve urged an end to the use of ketamine and similar medicines by first responders for non-medically indicated law enforcement purposes. That part of the resolution was ultimately referred to the AMA Board of Trustees for future action.

Other policies call on AMA to:

  • Acknowledge that racism and unconscious bias in medical research and health care harm marginalized communities;
  • Support developing policy to combat racism and its effects;
  • Identify current best practices among health care facilities, practices, and academic medical centers that recognize, address, and mitigate the effects of racism; and
  • Prevent and combat racism and bias in innovative health technologies.


Last Updated On

November 18, 2020

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David Doolittle


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Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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