Friday, August 6, 2010

PFLAG Applauds New Joint Commission Recommendations for Patient Care

PFLAG National praised the release of a new publication intended to improve the care that diverse populations receive, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LBGT) patients. The publication, issued by the Joint Commission, has significant power in guiding healthcare practices and policies since the guidelines that it issues are followed by about 80% of U.S. hospitals.

"For those with LGBT family and loved ones, knowing that the people that they care about are going to be treated with respect, dignity, and equal treatment is a tremendous relief," said Jody M. Huckaby, PFLAG National's Executive Director. "This publication, containing specific recommendations backed by the authority of the nation's preeminent hospital accreditor, is a major step forward to accomplishing this goal."

The new publication, Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals, addresses a wide range of issues relating to LGBT persons, including nondiscrimination policies, the rights of same-sex couples, inclusion of non-custodial parents in caring for children being raised by same-sex parents, how to provide sensitive care to LGBT persons and their families, and other topics. This publication comes on the heels of a January rule issued that rule forbids the hospitals it accredits from discriminating based on a wide range of personal characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

"The health care sector as a whole is recognizing that LGBT people and their families have some unique needs and is moving to respond compassionately and effectively to meet those needs," he added.

Huckaby pointed to this guide being an powerful educational companion to PFLAG's Straight for Equality in Healthcare program, which released a 2009 guide for basic cultural competency around LGBT issues for healthcare providers – and the case as to why providers can't ignore this important information. (Straight for Equality in Healthcare resources can be accessed at www.straightforequality.org/healthcare.)

Joel Ginsberg, former Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, advocated for full inclusion of LGBT patients and their families as a member of the Expert Advisory Panel that helped the Joint Commission develop the new standards and guidelines.

"The Joint Commission has taken the right position on many of the most important issues related to LGBT health. This is a huge step forward that has the potential to significantly improve the quality of care that LGBT people receive," said Ginsberg. "The impact may be exponentially larger if we can persuade other parts of the health care sector to follow the Joint Commission's lead."

In April, President Obama directed the Department of Health and Human Services to require all hospitals that receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding to ensure that LGBT patients are able to exercise full visitation and health care decision-making rights.

Access additional resources now:
* Straight for Equality in Healthcare

* PFLAG National

* Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals

* View a list of LGBT-related items from the guide compiled by Dr. Joel Ginsberg

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