Profession

Clinics fall short in treatment of transgender patients, doctors

Even gay-friendly health care organizations often lack nondiscrimination policies.

By Kevin B. O’Reilly — Posted June 4, 2009

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Only 10 in 166 outpatient clinics and hospitals got a perfect score on a set of model equal-treatment policies for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender patients and health professionals, according to a May report released by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Assn. and the Human Rights Campaign advocacy group.

Most of the organizations that participated in the survey listed sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination policies, allowed equal visitation access for same-sex partners and parents, had cultural competency training on sexual orientation and offered health benefits for employees with same-sex partners. But even among these gay-friendly hospitals and clinics, only 7% pledged in writing not to discriminate against transgender patients.

"This means that in the other 93%, a transgender patient may be addressed by an incorrect name or incorrect pronouns, perhaps even placed in a room with other patients of their birth gender," GLMA President-Elect Rebecca A. Allison, MD, said in a news conference. "A clearly stated policy that forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression is an important first step in encouraging openness, and in creating a climate for delivery of quality care. Transgender patients face health care discrimination every day -- a fact that makes the disparities identified in this report a call to action."

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender patients are four times more likely than other patients to withhold medical information from their physicians for fear of discrimination, according to a 2004 Witeck-Combs Communications/Harris Interactive survey.

"This lack of openness can lead to missed opportunities in identifying individual health risks and the failure to provide appropriate screening," said Dr. Allison, a Phoenix cardiologist who chairs the American Medical Association's Advisory Committee on GLBT Issues. "Discrimination, or the fear of discrimination, undermines the delivery of quality care."

The 93 hospitals and 73 clinics that responded to the survey did so voluntarily, and the results are not a representative sample of industrywide practices. In 2007, the AMA modified its policies to specifically prohibit discrimination against transgender physicians, medical students and patients.

Back to top


ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE


Featured
Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story


Read story

Goodbye

American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story


Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story


Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story


Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story


Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story


Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story


Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn