How hospitals can ensure they better serve LGBT patients

Hospitals need to understand more about LGBT patients and communicate what they've learned to one another and to patients in order to ensure better treatment of and access for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients, according to an article published by Hospitals & Health Networks Daily.

Hospital systems devote too little training and attention to LGBT issues, according to Harvey Makadon, M.D., a Harvard Medical School professor and program director at the National LGBT Health Education Center at the Fenway Institute, who spoke at a recent webinar, HHN reports. 

He said the primary challenges in equitably treating LGBT patients are data collection, clinical education, consumer education and patient-centered care. The Fenway Institute recommends that electronic health records include information about patient sexual orientation and gender identity, including the patient's sex at birth and his or her preferred name and pronoun.

Hospitals also must ensure they don't discriminate by sexual orientation, gender identity or sexual gender expression, and that providers and staff understand the health needs of LGBT patients, according to the article.

An example from the Mayo Clinic illustrated why education is so important. Some staff "didn't know what LGBT stood for," said John Knudsen, M.D., medical director of the Clinical Practice Office of Health Equity and Inclusion.

He said key lessons at Mayo Clinic included identifying an executive champion for LGBT inclusion issues, aligning LGBT inclusion issues with other efforts to eliminate disparities and aligning healthcare equity with strategic business priorities.

The potential problems are widespread. One recent study found that few U.S. academic faculty practices have procedures to identify LGBT-competent physicians, or provide comprehensive LGBT-competency training. Another study found that straight providers are unconsciously biased against LGBT patients, although it was unclear whether that bias affected the care they provided.

To learn more: 
- here's the H&HN article