SSM Health will no longer use race or ethnicity as a factor in determining if a patient is to receive monoclonal antibodies to treat patients COVID-19.
The healthcare agency made the announcement after receiving a letter on Friday from the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty alleging racial discrimination in the company's policies to determine who receives monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 infections.
"While early versions of risk calculators across the nation appropriately included race and gender criteria based on initial outcomes, SSM Health has continued to evaluate and update our protocols weekly to reflect the most up-to-date clinical evidence available," the company said in a statement.
"As a result, race and gender criteria are no longer utilized. The internal memo cited by WILL inadvertently referenced an expired calculator."
Dan Lennington, WILL attorney, questioned the timing of the change in policy.
“We’re encouraged that SSM Health has dropped the racial classifications from their risk-scoring calculator," Lennington said in a statement. "But if they updated this calculator before today, we have yet to see any communication to Wisconsin physicians on the matter. We still profoundly disagree with SSM's position that race is an 'appropriate' consideration when treating patients for COVID."
Officials with SSM say the change was made before the letter from WILL.
SSM Health stated early in the pandemic the health agency had to use "numerous tools and protocols in real-time, based upon the best available information and evidence to treat this emerging disease."
"As a standard medical practice, risk-scoring calculators were created as one of several tools clinicians use to ensure they are providing high-quality, evidence-based care," the company stated. "Our knowledge of this virus has grown as has our ability to refine the tools and protocols used to care for COVID patients. In addition, the virus has mutated over time into different variants requiring some variations in treatment."
In the letter from WILL to SSM Health, the law firm asked for the calculator to be immediately suspended.
"Because your risk calculator discriminates against patients based on race, it is illegal," the letter stated. "We are asking that you immediately suspend use of this calculator and develop a new tool that evaluates patients based on their individual health history and symptoms, rather than their race."
SSM Health is a Catholic not-for-profit, healthcare company that operates eight facilities in Wisconsin and is in four other states.
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Source : https://www.jsonline.com/story/money/business/2022/01/14/ssm-health-not-use-race-and-gender-determine-who-gets-covid-treatment/6525813001/538