Joint Commission guide focuses on LGBT patients

Goal is to provide equitable care

The Joint Commission provides instruction for hospital staff on how to create a more welcoming, safe, and inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients and their families in a new field guide.

"Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-and Family-Centered Care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community: A Field Guide" features a compilation of strategies, practice examples, resources, and testimonials designed to help facilities in their efforts to improve communication and provide more patient-centered care to their LGBT patients. (For detailed instructions on how to obtain the guide, see resource information at the end of this article.)

The Joint Commission urges facilities to adopt a combination of the strategies and practices found in the guide as a foundation for creating processes, policies, and programs that are sensitive and inclusive of LGBT patients and families. The Joint Commission stated research demonstrated LGBT patients often do not receive the same level of care as other patients because of social stigma, lack of awareness, and insensitivity to their unique needs.

What health disparities exist? Often the LGBT community has less access to insurance and healthcare services. Also it experiences higher rates of smoking, alcohol and substance abuse, a higher risk for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections, and increased incidence of some cancers.

In a checklist at the end of the guide, healthcare staff members are encouraged to "provide information and guidance for the specific health concerns facing lesbian and bisexual women, gay and bisexual men, and transgender people." Suggestions include the following: "Become familiar with online and local resources available for LGBT people. Seek information and stay up to date on LGBT health topics. Be prepared with appropriate information and referrals."

According to The Joint Commission, the field guide can serve as an educational resource for facilities to use in the development of staff training as well as in their efforts to comply with laws, regulations, and standards pertaining to the treatment of LGBT patients.

Resource

To download a copy of "Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-and Family-Centered Care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community: A Field Guide," go to: http://www.jointcommission.org/lgbt.