On “Race Corrections”

Amber Wyman

I learned about this in a recent conference I attended – there are disparities in the treatment of people of color and lower economic strata for pain, chronic illness, etc. However, there is a long history of assessing people of different races differently along with many criteria. An example is an assessment of lung function using spirometry:

“Race corrections” were made in the assessment of slaves’ pulmonary function due to the belief that they were “inferior” and that the lack of sufficient blood flow contributed to their “ignorance and barbarism”. These “corrections” persisted into 20th century medicine.

Other “race corrections” still persist in other areas, notably measurement of glomerular filtration rate (GFR), a measurement of the health of the kidneys.

If you check your own lab results you may see this “correction” still persisting to this day.

I plan to use these articles to start a discussion about the long-standing racism that persists to this day in the treatment of African American patients.


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