In troubling development for the nation’s top medical journal, Dr. Howard Bauchner, chief editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, has resigned due to his mishandling of a podcast on racism in health care.
Lindsey Tanner of the Associated Press has reported that the issue stems from a tweet and podcast the journal produced in March 2021, proclaiming racism doesn’t exist within the medical community. The journal’s tweet read, in part, “No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in health care?”
Black doctors and a number of media critics immediately denounced the quote, and Bauchner quickly left the journal on administrative leave.
According to Tanner, “Bauchner later apologized and asked a deputy editor who hosted the podcast to resign.”
At the same time, the American Medical Association (the organization behind the journal) launched an investigation into Bauchner’s actions and the actions of his staff.
“The nation’s largest doctors’ group gives editorial independence to JAMA and related medical journals it publishes, but an oversight committee can make dismissal recommendations to the AMA’s board,” Tanner reported.
Amid the investigation, Bauchner, who has been with the publication for a decade, announced his full resignation and will be leaving JAMA on June 30.
“I remain profoundly disappointed in myself for the lapses that led to the publishing of the tweet and podcast,” Bauchner said in a statement. “Although I did not write or even see the tweet, or create the podcast, as editor-in-chief, I am ultimately responsible for them.’’
The journal’s executive editor, Dr. Phil Fontanarosa, will serve as interim editor-in-chief until a new editor is appointed.
In a statement from the AMA, Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, who heads a minority affairs group at the AMA, said that the association has been working hard to try and make strides addressing racism in medicine — including declaring racism a public health threat.
“[The tweet and podcast] felt like a dagger to the heart to those of us who’ve worked so hard to get that work done,” Stanford said.