Communication, Patient-centered Care in Radiology for LGBT Community

January 25, 2017

Radiology practices and effective communication and patient-centered care for LGBT patients.

As leaders in our departments, we have a responsibility to ensure that we provide culturally competent, and patient- and family-centered care. The care we deliver in our departments must be provided with dignity and respect and to ensure safety and privacy for all patients and families who utilize our services. Until recently, patients who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender have been disregarded as health care consumers. LGBT individuals and their families reside in every county in the United States and they have an urgent need for access to welcoming, compassionate, and assuring health care provided by knowledgeable and sensitive health care providers. The Joint Commission felt that this is such an important issue, they developed a field guide: Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-and Family-Centered Care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community.

When surveyed, 56% of the LGB patients experienced some type of discrimination in health care and 70% of transgender or gender nonconforming patients surveyed have experienced some type of discrimination in health care. Research has demonstrated that LGBT individuals experience disparities in care and face other barriers to equitable care, such as refusal of care, delayed or substandard care, mistreatment, inequitable policies and practices, little or no inclusion in health outreach or education, and inappropriate restrictions or limits on visitation.

Here are a few items that the Joint Commission has on their Checklist to Advance Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-and Family-Centered Care for the LGBT Community in appendix A of their field guide. Each of the bullets below have listed processes to accomplish each bullet. The processes are too numerous to list in this blog.  I highly recommend reading the Joint Commission field guide.

Integrate unique LGBT patient needs into new policies or modify existing policies.

Create a welcoming environment that is inclusive of LGBT patients and families

Avoid assumptions about sexual orientation and gender identity

Identify opportunities to collect LGBT-relevant data and information during the health care encounter

Collect feedback from LGBT patients and families and the surrounding LGBT community.

Most importantly, offer educational opportunities that address LGBT health issues

Ensure equitable treatment and inclusion for LGBT employees

There are many resources to help advance our staff’s knowledge and sensitivity regarding interactions with the LGBT community and families. Below is a list of resources that have great information regarding this topic:

The Teaching Transgender Toolkit

Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-and Family-Centered Care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LBGT) Community and Field Guide

Healthcare Equality Index 2016 Promoting Equitable and Inclusive Care for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Patients and Their Families

Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMAS)

My facility will be starting the journey towards advancing effective communication, cultural competence, and patient- and family-centered care for the LGBT community in 2017.  There will be a great deal of information to absorb, however, we will be better equipped to serve the health care needs of this overlooked community.