Study finds that racial bias skews algorithms widely used to guide care from heart surgery to birth

Health news site Statnews recently reported on a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine:

Decision aids that U.S. physicians use to guide patient care on everything from who receives heart surgery to who needs kidney care and who should try to give birth vaginally are racially biased, scientists reported on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine…

Findings indicated that algorithms used by hospitals and physicians to guide the health care given tens of millions of Americans are shot through with implicit racism that their creators are often unaware of, but which nevertheless often result in Black people receiving inferior care.

Specifics and links to data here.

This week a followup article adds:

These algorithms are running in the background of most Americans’ interaction with the health care system. They sift data on patients’ medical problems, prior health costs, medication use, lab results, and other information to predict how much their care will cost in the future and inform decisions such as whether they should get extra doctor visits or other support to manage their illnesses at home. The trouble is, these data reflect long-standing racial disparities in access to care, insurance coverage, and use of services, leading the algorithms to systematically overlook the needs of people of color in ways that insurers and providers may fail to recognize.

More…

Fr Silouan Thompson

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