Can Medicine Become More Equitable?
In its landmark 2002 study, Unequal Treatment, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) stated bluntly that racial and ethnic minorities receive lower-quality health services than white Americans. Two decades after the IOM called out structural racism, the devastating toll remains apparent in the uneven risks associated with COVID, diabetes, asthma, cancer, stroke, and pregnancy. Pain medicines are still prescribed more reluctantly to Black patients and their heart attacks are treated less aggressively. The renewed attention to what has been called “medical apartheid” suggests we are finally trying to reckon with the harms, but only resolute political will, bold policies, and culture change throughout the medical system can make it happen.