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A troubled calculus

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Science  23 Jul 2021:
Vol. 373, Issue 6553, pp. 380-383
DOI: 10.1126/science.373.6553.380

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Summary

Behind a range of medical decisions—prescriptions, specialist referrals, surgeries—lie algorithms that help doctors gauge risks. But these risk calculators often include a controversial variable: a patient's race. At a population scale, race often does correlate with medical outcomes, in part because it acts as a proxy for the influence of other socioeconomic factors on health. But in recent years, U.S. doctors and students reckoning with racism in medicine have questioned the use of algorithms that are adjusted according to race, in part over concerns that they may widen existing health disparities. Their concerns are spurring changes to medical calculators at major medical centers and inspiring a search for race-free alternatives.

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