Well Being

Better Care For Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals

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Getting quality health care can be difficult enough for some people, but if you throw into the mix being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transexual, getting quality health care can be even more difficult.

While the actual health issues, such as diabetes, cancer or hypertension, don’t differ from straights, all too often, medical professionals, from doctors and nurses to physiotherapists and nutritionists, don’t understand the cultural issues that affect Better Care for Gays  Lesbians  Bisexuals 2men 200x300 jpgLGBT patients. In some cases, the professionals may rely on misinformation or myths, or they don’t know where to turn for the information they need. Regardless of the problem, these barriers to adequate healthcare access for their LGBT patients.

According to a press release issued by PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays),

“For many healthcare providers, it isn’t a case of not wanting to be inclusive of GLBT patients, but rather a sense that it isn’t an issue – or, when it is, confusion around how to talk about it – that gets in the way,” said Jody M. Huckaby, Executive Director of Parents, [PFLAG]. To help counter this problem, the organization began a project in 2007 that addressed the issues and has now published the results in a publications called Straight for Equality in Healthcare.

“Making the case for inclusive and competent healthcare for LGBT patients is critical and by providing simple and accessible information to healthcare professionals, we can transform the experiences of LGBT people in the healthcare system,” said Huckaby.  “This guide will create more effective relationships between straight healthcare providers and their LGBT patients and can radically improve healthcare for our community.”

The new Straight for Equality in Healthcare guide was created with the assistance of a diverse committee if healthcare professionals in fields such as primary care, mental health, nursing, and allied health disciplines. Topics include:

•       Why should I care about gay people in my practice?: The case for inclusion.
•       Making a diagnosis: Understanding and identifying personal barriers around LGBT issues and specific steps on how to overcome them.
•       Lidocane for your nerves: Being supportive need not be nerve-wracking. Simple, nonpolitical ways to start signaling acceptance of LGBT people in your practice are outlined.
•       Resources: Basic terminology, sample inclusive intake forms, nondiscrimination policies, and connections to other resources.

For those of you in health care who read this blog, have you considered your care of LGBT patients and their families? I know it’s an issue in many parts of medicine, including obstetrics and palliative care – two opposite ends of the health care spectrum, but very affected.


Image: PhotoXpress.com