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Study: LGBT Community Lacks Competent Medical Care

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.

As 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.