From ASCLS President Cindy Johnson, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, and the ASCLS Board of Directors
The tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Sean Reed and George Floyd at the hands of police crystallized the injustice in our society, and has brought a range of systemic, racial disparities into focus. We have witnessed the raw pain of our colleagues whose experienced traumas are relived daily, yet we cannot adequately console them.
Like many organizations, ASCLS has had diversity and inclusion at its core, but discussions and statements must lead to action.
As laboratory professionals, we see the dramatic socioeconomic and healthcare disparities in outcomes for some patient populations. In real time we report the devastating and disproportionate effects COVID-19 has on people of color, but our work has also documented the scourge of chronic disease ravaging those same communities. We work in partnership with our colleagues in emergency medicine to save lives impacted by violence, which is another tragic outcome of discrimination.
ASCLS and the rest of the laboratory community have much work to do.
Our Code of Ethics dictates our Duty to the Patient and requires that each “receives the highest quality of care…” and laboratory services that are “safe, effective, efficient, timely, equitable, and patient-centered.” As laboratory professionals, we are ethically bound to address the clear inequities in the system. This begins with professional education.
We are changing the closing general session at our Joint Annual Meeting to focus on the social determinants that cause patients of color to experience poorer health outcomes. The virtual session on Wednesday July 1, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time will be freely streamed live. We invite all laboratory professionals to participate.
We are accepting the challenge from thousands of our compatriots crying out in peaceful protest to fix this and take these first steps toward marshaling the talent and skills of clinical laboratory professionals to lead the implementation of solutions to social disparities in healthcare.
It’s not a solution, but we hope this is the beginning of a journey toward one.
Let’s get to work.