Should Black People Get Race Adjustments In Kidney Medicine? : Short Wave As the U.S. continues to grapple with systemic racism, some in the medical community are questioning whether the diagnostic tools they use may be contributing to racial health disparities.

As NPR science correspondent Maria Godoy reports, that debate is playing out prominently in the world of kidney medicine — specifically, in the use of estimated glomerular filtration rate, or eGFR. The diagnostic formula most commonly used to assess the health of patients with chronic kidney disease may be unintentionally contributing to poor outcomes — and reinforcing racist thinking.

Read Maria's piece here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

Should Black People Get Race Adjustments In Kidney Medicine?

Should Black People Get Race Adjustments In Kidney Medicine?

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In recent years, some in the medical community have started questioning the use of race in kidney medicine, arguing its use could perpetuate health disparities. FG Trade/Getty Images hide caption

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FG Trade/Getty Images

In recent years, some in the medical community have started questioning the use of race in kidney medicine, arguing its use could perpetuate health disparities.

FG Trade/Getty Images

As the U.S. continues to grapple with systemic racism, some in the medical community are questioning whether the diagnostic tools they use may be contributing to racial health disparities.

As NPR science correspondent Maria Godoy reports, that debate is playing out prominently in the world of kidney medicine, where estimated glomerular filtration rate, or eGFR, is used. The diagnostic formula most commonly used to assess the health of patients with chronic kidney disease may be unintentionally contributing to poor outcomes — and reinforcing racist thinking.

Black people are almost four times more likely to suffer from kidney failure than non-Hispanic whites. And once they get to that stage, Black patients spend months longer waiting for a kidney transplant than white patients.

In August, the National Kidney Foundation and the American Society of Nephrology waded into the debate. Together, they formed a task force to evaluate the pros and cons of using race in estimated GFR. Interim recommendations are expected this month.

Read Maria's reporting on the debate about eGFR.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Rebecca Ramirez, edited by Viet Le and Gisele Grayson and fact-checked by Ariela Zebede. Neal Rauch and Josh Newell were the audio engineers for this episode.