DNH and Dr. Marilyn Singleton, a Los Angeles anesthesiologist, joined Dr. Azadeh Khatibi, a Los Angeles ophthalmologist, in its suit against the Medical Board of California.
“The implicit bias requirement promotes the inaccurate belief that white individuals are naturally racist,” Singleton said. “This message can be detrimental to medical professionals and their patients as it creates an atmosphere of suspicion and animosity, which goes against the fundamental principle of doing no harm.”
California passed a law in 2019 requiring the courses, under the idea that the training would reduce health disparities based on demographic characteristics like race, gender, and sexual orientation. The idea of “implicit bias” suggests that doctors and other medical professionals treat patients differently based on those demographic characteristics, causing disparities.
All California doctors must log 50 hours of continuing education hours every two years to meet license renewal requirements.
The lawsuit argues that California physicians are required to adopt and espouse an ideology, arguing, “There is no evidence-based consensus that trainings intended to reduce implicit bias are effective.” It cites evidence showing the trainings can cause “counterproductive anger, frustration, and resentment among those taking the trainings.”
The suit challenges the law on free speech grounds, stating, “Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the government cannot compel speakers to engage in discussions on subjects they prefer to remain silent about. Likewise, the government cannot condition a speaker’s ability to offer courses for credit on the requirement that she espouse the government’s favored view on a controversial topic.”
The plaintiffs are being represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, whose attorney Caleb Trotter said the training does not allow doctors to consider each medical case in the context of the patient’s individual conditions, adding the training tells “doctors they should be concerned about a patient’s immutable characteristics like race, gender, and sexual orientation, regardless of the characteristics’ relevance to the patient’s treatment.”
Both Singleton and Khatibi have organized and taught continuing medical education courses for several years, and are concerned that the California law would compel them to teach the content.
DNH, as a membership organization, is joining the suit on behalf of California members who do not wish to include the content in their continuing education sessions, adding in the suit that its membership is “united by a mission to protect healthcare from radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideologies.”
“Physicians have free will and act in the best interest of their patients. The idea of unconscious bias states that one acts on those biases, and there’s no evidence of this happening in the medical community,” DNH chairman Dr. Stanley Goldfarb said. “Medical professionals take the Hippocratic oath to do no harm, and do not need lawmakers or medical organizations to tell them what they should think when providing medical advice to patients.”
The Washington Examiner reached out to the Medical Board of California for comment.