And in September, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and three other members of Congress called on the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate their use, warning that they “risk embedding racism into medical practice.”
Some medical institutions have stopped using race corrections in some tests. MGH and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, for example, no longer adjust the results of a popular test for kidney functions, called eGFR. Critics worried the adjustment had tended to make kidney functions of Black patients look better, possibly concealing genuine problems and causing dangerous delays in needed medical care. Last week, a new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital concluded that eliminating race correction in kidney disease tests would qualify up to one in every three Black patients for more advanced care — and that might result in more effective treatment of the disease.
There have been several reports of computer algorithms that produce racially biased results, such as facial recognition programs that can accurately identify white people, but not Black people. Earlier this year, a Black man in Michigan was arrested after facial recognition software falsely identified him as a criminal suspect. Such problems are usually a byproduct of the software development — in this case, using too few photos of Black people to train the software to recognize dark-skinned faces.Source…