Did you know doctors used to give blacks higher doses of radiation during X-rays?

Did you know they used to give blacks higher doses of radiation for X-rays because the medical profession thought they had thicker skin, muscle and bone that required it?

I didn’t know this until I read this piece from Harvard Medicine:

Until the late 1960s, X-ray machine operators were trained to give Black people higher doses of radiation than they did for white people.

When this fact came to light during 1968 U.S. congressional hearings on radiation safety, amid heightened racial tensions in the weeks following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the practice drew considerable attention from the news media and caused an outcry from the general public.

The controversy ignited an investigation by the U.S. Public Health Service’s National Center for Radiological Health (a forerunner of today’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health in the FDA), which quickly concluded that there was no scientific evidence to suggest that Black people and white people required different doses of X-rays for successful medical imaging.

Following the center’s report, issued in June 1968, federal and state guidelines were rewritten, textbooks updated, and X-ray machine training manuals revised to remove race from the imaging protocols.

“Race and racism remain pervasive problems in health care,” said David Jones, the A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, co-author of a recent New England Journal of Medicine article. “By documenting the misuse of race in medicine in the past, we can help protect patients from medical racism today.”

Keep in mind that under guidelines being proposed (and passed) by Republicans in conservative states, you couldn’t teach about racist X-rays in publicly funded schools because it would be considered critical race theory.

Which is just as ridiculous as rules saying you can’t teach the plainly evident fact that Christopher Columbus didn’t “discover” North America because there were people living here for at least 16,000 years before Columbus was even born.

It’s just that those people who were here 16,000 years before Columbus weren’t white, so whites like to teach kids that Columbus did something for which he has never deserved credit. And many whites get upset if you point all of this out because they equate pointing this out with making white kids feel bad about themselves.

It’s enough to give me a permanent headache.

Meanwhile, you can read more about blacks and X-rays in this article in the NEJM.

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