Medical Group Apologizes to Black Doctors


By Carmon Dixon
Internet News - USA

July 23, 2008

As I experience it, racism is America's gangrene.

There are times when affected extremities have been treated with low grade antibiotics, but collectively we have never been able to excise the rotted flesh from the body politic. Instead for the most part, we drag the infected along, pretend not to notice its stench all the while periodically tightening the tourniquet, quite sure that cutting off flow to the problem will somehow make it go away. It won't you know.

Recently, the American Medical Association, the largest and most powerful association of doctors, apologized for the way it had shut out black doctors and refused to share information or resources with them. What information? I don't know. But the directors of the AMA believe this exclusion by the white medical establishment was serious enough that the practice of medicine in America was weakened. ...

Here's an example:

Transplant surgeon Clive Callender has hurtful memories of being the only Black doctor at medical meetings in the 1970s, met with stark silence when he pleaded for better access to transplant organs for Blacks.

Another example:

When Dr. Edward W. Reed left Meharry Medical College to enter private practice in Memphis in 1962, membership in the Memphis & Shelby County Medical Society not being opened to people of color like him was an unwritten rule.

That meant that Reed also couldn't join the American Medical Association or its Tennessee affiliate. And at that time, none of Memphis' three major hospitals had a black doctor on their staff, the retired surgeon recalled.

Reed, now 87, would go on to integrate those hospitals and make his mark on the medical profession. Last spring, he was one of three doctors recognized by the Tennessee Medical Association with 2008 outstanding physician awards.

"It was a long time coming," Reed said about the apology. "It's diminishing, but you have some disparities continuing. The magic wand has not been waved and it's all disappeared."

It 's so sad really. I choked up as I read about the AMA's apology, so much for that Hippocratic Oath. I am just starting to read Harriet A. Washington's 'Medical Apartheid.' The evidence of longstanding racism in the medical treatment of black people is hard and strong medicine.

** Join the Discussion on the apology in Black Voices Community


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