American College of Physicians Endorses Healthcare Equity for the LGBT Community

Summary and Comment |
May 11, 2015

American College of Physicians Endorses Healthcare Equity for the LGBT Community

  1. Diane E. Judge, APN/CNP

The ACP recommends measures to enhance the provision of “culturally and clinically competent” care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

  1. Diane E. Judge, APN/CNP

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has published a position statement for eliminating disparities in healthcare provided to and policies experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

Citing discrepancies in care (e.g., lower mammography rates in lesbians, insurance exclusions on transgender health services) received by the LGBT community compared with the general population, the ACP recommends:

  • Including gender identity (distinct from sexual orientation) in nondiscrimination and antiharassment policies at medical schools, hospitals, physicians' offices, and other medical facilities.

  • Including comprehensive transgender healthcare services in public and private health benefit plans and providing transgender individuals with all services available to other beneficiaries.

  • Including all those who maintain ongoing emotional relationships, regardless of legal or biological relationships, in the definition of “family.”

  • Allowing patients in hospitals and medical facilities to determine who may visit and act on their behalf regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

  • Incorporating LGBT health issues into medical education curricula, recruiting LGBT individuals into medical practice, and supporting LGBT medical students, residents, and practicing physicians.

The statement supports civil marriage rights for same-sex couples; research about the demographics of the LBGT population, causes of health disparities and best practices for reducing such discrepancies; and evidence-based review of blood donation deferral policies for men who have sex with men. The ACP opposes “conversion,” “reorientation,” or “reparative” therapy for LGBT individuals.

Comment

Many LGBT individuals avoid healthcare services because of real or feared stigmatization, and many clinicians are uncomfortable asking about gender identity and sexual orientation (information that is essential to individualized care). I am glad to see a professional medical organization acknowledging and addressing barriers to seeking and receiving appropriate, respectful, nonjudgmental healthcare services regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Editor Disclosures at Time of Publication

  • Disclosures for Diane E. Judge, APN/CNP at time of publication Equity Stryker Corporation

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