More hospitals improve care equality for LGBT patients

This year, 71 U.S. hospitals and healthcare facilities were deemed leaders in healthcare equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) patients, visitors and employees, soaring 162 percent from the 27 facilities in 2011, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign.

The rise in patient-centered care equality leaders came along with an increase in survey participants. The number of healthcare facilities voluntarily participating in the Healthcare Equality Index jumped 40 percent to 122, representing a total of 407 individual healthcare facilities, according to a report summary.

However, the big gain in respondents from previous years would be small beans compared to the more than 5,700 hospitals throughout the country, noted Kaiser Health News. In fact, 18 states had no provider participants in the Healthcare Equality Index.

Nevertheless, the four foundational criteria for LGBT patient-centered care involved a new training requirement, recognizing that staff education is necessary for successful policies, according to the report. This year, more than 67 percent of facilities provided employee training for specific LGBT health concerns. Eighty-four percent of those used Human Rights Campaign-provided training, and the rest arranged their own training sessions with the required length, content and trainer expertise.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services yesterday released a new progress report on healthcare and well-being in the LGBT community, showing successful efforts to ensure fairness in the U.S. healthcare system, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. Yet she acknowledged more work is needed, KHN noted.

To provide equal access to quality care, HHS will continue to support anti-smoking initiatives for LGBT youth, as well as fund pilot programs to reduce obesity in lesbian and bisexual women, according to the 2012 progress report.

For more:
- here's the report (.pdf) and summary
- read the KHN article
- here's the HHS announcement