Alright folks, check this out. We got some big news for surgeons out there, especially when it comes to pulmonary function tests (PFTs). Now, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery, eliminating race correction in PFTs can have a major impact on surgeons’ treatment decisions and potentially worsen the disparities in lung cancer surgery among African American patients. Yeah, it’s a big deal!
Now, let me break it down for you. See, the United States government, healthcare systems, and practitioners are all prioritizing the elimination of race correction in PFTs. Why? Well, because it’s all about tackling the inappropriate use of race in clinical algorithms. It turns out that race correction incorrectly mixes the social construct of race with biological differences, resulting in false assumptions of worse lung function in African American individuals compared to their White counterparts. And that’s just not right, you know?
But here’s the kicker, folks. We don’t know what the impact of removing race correction from PFTs will be for African American patients with lung cancer. That’s why these researchers set out to find some answers.
They conducted a quality improvement study involving hospitals that perform lung cancer surgery. They wanted to see how many of these hospitals use race correction in PFTs, evaluate the connection between race correction and predicted lung function, and test how removing race correction would affect surgeons’ treatment recommendations. It’s a whole lot of data, folks.
So, get this. Out of the 16 hospitals they studied, 15 of them reported using race correction in PFTs for African American patients. Yeah, you heard that right. And here’s where it gets interesting. If they had used race-neutral equations instead of race-corrected ones, the preoperative and postoperative lung function predictions for these patients would have decreased by almost 10%! That’s a significant drop, my friends.
But wait, there’s more. The study also found that when surgeons saw race-neutral PFT results, they were more likely to recommend wedge resection instead of lobectomy for African American patients. And get this, it happened even though there was no actual change in the patient’s risk or lung function. It’s crazy, right?
The researchers behind this study are urging caution. They’re saying that removing race correction from PFTs cannot happen in isolation. We need large-scale efforts to educate clinicians, improve shared decision-making with patients, and develop new guidelines and diagnostic studies for lung function in the context of lung cancer surgery. It’s a whole package deal, folks.
Now, I gotta mention that this study does have its limitations. The recruitment rate for participation was low, but don’t worry, the internal validity was still on point. And hey, the study vignettes didn’t allow surgeons to ask for additional preoperative testing, like cardiopulmonary exercise testing. So, keep that in mind.
In conclusion, folks, we have to be careful when it comes to removing race correction from PFTs. It’s not as simple as it sounds. We don’t want to make things worse and exacerbate the existing racial disparities in lung cancer surgery. So, let’s take it slow, let’s educate ourselves, and let’s work towards a more equitable and informed system.