More hospitals using LGBT nondiscrimination policies, says study

A growing number of hospitals around the U.S. have adopted policies that ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) patients according to a report released Tuesday by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Details of the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), an annual survey done by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, were discussed during a press conference at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. The press conference with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, HRC President Chad Griffin and Wayne Frederick, MD, Howard University provost and chief academic officer, was broadcast live on the Internet.

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This year, the HEI found a 40 percent increase in rated facilities – a total of 407 nationwide. In addition, 234 of those rated hospitals received a perfect score, said Griffin during the press conference.

“I commend the LGBT and healthcare communities for the progress made and I am proud to be part of an administration that has a historic record of accomplishment for the LGBT community,” said Sebelius at the press conference. “Our report shows we not only met our goals but went even further to improve LGBT access to care and coverage.”

The HEI, which is in its fifth year, is “designed to allow U.S. healthcare facilities to assess the degree to which they provide LGBT patient-centered care, to identify and remedy any gaps and to make public their commitment to LGBT patients and their families,” according to the report. It is free for hospitals to participate in the HEI.

The survey is comprised of four core criteria for LGBT patient-centered care, which includes a number of provisions within a participating hospital's nondiscrimination policies for sexual orientation and gender identity and visitation rights for same-sex couples.

The HEI found that over 95 percent of the 407 rated facilities included sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination policies. In addition, almost 80 percent of the hospitals included gender identity in their policies and more than 65 percent of inpatient hospitals included policies granting equal visitation rights to same-sex couples and same-sex parents.

In addition, the criteria included a new training requirement. This new requirement called on facilities to enroll at least five high-level managers in designated work areas for a minimum of 60 minutes of expert training in specific LGBT health concerns.

Out of the survey respondents, 67 percent provided employee training in LGBT patient-centered care, and 84 percent of those respondents achieved credit through training provided by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.