ASH Responds to Investigation on Sickle Cell Trait Being Cited in Policy Custody Deaths
The American Society of Hematology (ASH) has issued a position statement asserting that it is medically inaccurate to claim sickle cell trait as a cause of death based solely on the presence of sickled cells at autopsy. ASH’s policy was issued in response to the recent investigation and coverage in The New York Times, “How a Genetic Trait in Black People Can Give the Police Cover.”
In response to the article, ASH President Martin S. Tallman, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, submitted a letter to the editor that was published on May 25 and issued the following statement:
“The use of sickle cell trait to cover up the deaths of Black people while in police custody is abhorrent and has no scientific or medical merit. Based upon our examination of the highest quality, up-to-date data, as expert hematologists and scientists, we decry the use of sickle cell trait as a cause or major contributor of death for Black people while in police custody. Sudden death is an extraordinarily rare occurrence in sickle cell trait and the finding of sickle cell trait is unlikely to supersede other inflicted traumas as the cause or major factor in death.
As reported by The New York Times, in two-thirds of the cases where sickle cell trait was incorrectly misinterpreted as the cause of death, the decedents had been forcefully restrained, beaten, pepper-sprayed, and/or shocked with stun guns. This incorrect characterization is without scientific or medical merit and is reminiscent of pseudoscience and biased beliefs used to justify unspeakable acts and injustices against select cohorts of people during humanity’s darkest hours.
Anti-racism is a moral imperative to attain health equity and foster a more just society. Engaging in anti-racist praxis requires condemnation of racism however and whenever it manifests. Further education and training are necessary to end this injustice. ASH will be convening key stakeholders to debunk this misinformation and incorrect interpretation of sickle cell trait through ASH’s Anti-Racism in Hematology Taskforce and the work of the Sickle Cell Disease Coalition’s Sickle Cell Trait Taskforce.”
Find the Society’s position on sickle cell trait and other ASH policy statements at www.hematology.org/advocacy/policy-statements.
2021 ASH Hematology Review Series Airing Episodes and Live Study Sessions through September
The 2021 ASH Hematology Review Series will air two to three episodes every week from June through September 2021 leading up to the fall Board Exams.
The series is designed for fellows preparing to take the internal medicine hematology certification exam or those desiring a comprehensive update of hematology standards of care. It provides a free review of hematology patterned after the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Certification Examination Blueprint.
At the beginning of each week, ASH will release on-demand lectures by subject matter experts focusing on benign and malignant hematology topics. Each Friday at 6:00 pm Eastern time, ASH will host a live study session to supplement the material covered earlier in the week. During the live study session, participants will discuss board exam questions and receive clarification on that week’s topics.
All recordings from the 2020 Hematology Review Series are available now at no cost on ASH Academy On Demand.
Register Now for the ASH Meeting on Hematologic Malignancies!
The 2021 ASH Meeting on Hematologic Malignancies (MHM) will take place September 10─11 at the Hilton Chicago and will also be offered online as a virtual meeting for those unable to attend in person. This year’s meeting will feature top experts in the field presenting the latest clinical research, interactive question and answer sessions, and opportunities to network with colleagues in an intimate, small group setting with no competing sessions.
ASH’s Consultative Hematology Course will be offered as an optional add-on event one day prior to MHM, on September 9. This interactive, half-day course is focused on nonmalignant hematology topics and will be led by faculty familiar with consultative practice issues and commonly encountered clinical problems that require the expertise of a hematologist. This year, the course will only be available via the virtual meeting platform.
All those who register for the in-person experience will also receive complimentary access to the meeting’s virtual platform. Continuing Education credits will be available for both the in-person and virtual meeting formats.
Register today at hematology.org/meetings/hematologic-malignancies.