A new study suggests that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
patients may have difficulty finding competent doctors at teaching hospitals
across the United States.
Researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University
of California, Los Angeles, surveyed the chief medical officers or deans
of nearly 70 accredited U.S. teaching hospitals. As
Reuters reports, they found that few hospitals had existing procedures (nine percent)
or policies (four percent), such as online directories, to identify LGBT-competent
physicians. In addition, only 16 percent of hospitals surveyed reported
having comprehensive LGBT-competency training, while 52 percent reported
having no training at all.
“As medical organizations we really should be making a better effort
to identify providers that can provide competent healthcare,” said
Dr. Allison Diamant, the study’s senior author.
Despite the current shortcomings in identifying LGBT-competent health care
providers, there was some good news. Approximately 80 percent of the hospitals
indicated that they were interested in doing more to address these issues.
The study, which was published in the
American Journal of Public Health, highlights the
need to improve access to LGBT-competent physicians and to train physicians to become LGBT-competent. According to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although LGBT patients suffer
from the same medical conditions as their heterosexual counterparts, their
outcomes are not as good. Gaps in health care are particularly common
with respect to asthma, diabetes, heart disease and substance abuse.
The challenges are particularly significant for transgender patients. A
separate study found that transgender patients often suffer discrimination
when seeking medical care. The research, which focused exclusively on
female-to-male transgender adults, found that 42 percent of the 1,711
subjects surveyed reported verbal harassment, physical assault, or denial
of equal treatment in a doctor’s office or hospital.
San Diego medical malpractice lawyers, we believe that all patients are entitled to quality medical treatment
by providers who are both respectful and competent. We are hopeful that
these studies will lead to greater attention to LGBT issues in health care.