Post submitted by Shane Snowdon, former HRC Director, Health & Aging Program
This week brought news that a gay Los Angeles-area man is suing his primary care physician because her notes on him after a routine physical listed “homosexual behavior” as both a diagnosis and a “chronic condition” in his medical record.
When patient Matthew Moore asked that these archaic and demeaning references to him be removed, the medical group apologized and promised to delete them. But when he later rechecked his records, “homosexual behavior” was still listed under “chronic problems.” And when he questioned the physician about the wording of her notes, he said, she defended her position.
Moore’s lawsuit and the media attention it has attracted highlight a sad truth: while health care often claims to be objective, it’s all too often contaminated by personal prejudice. We at HRC applaud Moore’s efforts to call attention to the bias and ignorance that are still all too common in health care—and we’re proud to say that HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) is providing much-needed training to health care providers about their LGBT patients.
In just the last 18 months, the HEI has trained over 15,000 health care providers at more than 500 hospitals and clinics—and has published, with Lambda Legal, a groundbreaking guide to care for transgender patients, who often face heightened discrimination. Furthermore, to ensure that future health professionals don’t hold the same outdated and biased beliefs as Moore’s physician, HEI staff have provided training at dozens of the nation’s medical schools and authored recommendations for improving LGBT curriculum and climate in health education.
The HEI also identifies and applauds the hundreds of health care facilities nationwide that have explicitly committed to providing welcoming, knowledgeable LGBT care. Like Matthew Moore, the HEI is saying loud and clear that LGBT patients should never have to deal with bias and ignorance along with their medical condition.