Report details discrimination in health care against LGBT people

Posted on 11 Feb 2010 at 1:40pm
By DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Disrespectful attitudes, prejudicial policies, refusal of care common, says Lambda Legal report

Dennis Coleman

Lambda Legal has issued a report, entitled "When Health Care Isn’t Caring," that found disrespectful attitudes, discriminatory treatment, inflexible and prejudicial policies and refusal of essential care for members of the LGBT community and for people with HIV/AIDS.

More than half of the people who participated in the survey were denied care, had healthcare professionals refuse to touch them or use excessive precautions, were subject to abusive language, were blamed for their own healthcare condition or were treated roughly or abusively.

Lambda Legal received 4,916 answers to the survey. About 56 percent of gay, lesbian or bisexual respondents experienced one of these barriers to health care.

Almost 63 percent of persons living with HIV and 70 percent of transgender persons experienced some form of discrimination. All age groups were represented and 86 percent identified as white.

One of the disturbing trends reported in the survey is that healthcare providers claim that their religious beliefs or affiliations allow them to deny care to LGBT people that they routinely offer to others.

Among the recommendations of the Lambda Legal report is for people who experience health care discrimination to report unfriendly and discriminatory practices to friendly providers and institutions.

Dennis Coleman, executive director of Lambda Legal’s South Central regional office in Dallas, said that LGBT-friendly doctors need to know where to refer patients and where not to. Hospitals may have non-discrimination policies regarding patient care but can only enforce them when they know about problems.

In addition, the report urges the LGBT community to advocate for improved laws and state board policies and to relate to Lambda Legal stories of health care discrimination.

Coleman said, "We want to hear that. We have resources and a cooperating attorney database to refer people, even if the complaint doesn’t fit into our mission."

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 12, 2010.

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