Press Room

April 11, 2012

Category: Health & Aging

HRC & American Health Lawyers Association Release Guide to Help Hospitals Better Serve LGBT Patients

Hospital visitation policies have evolved in response to changes in medicine, social customs, and patient/family demands

Washington – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, and the American Health Lawyers Association today released a new healthcare guide, Revisiting Your Hospital’s Visitation Policy, to assist hospital administrators in revising hospital visitation policies to satisfy new requirements barring discrimination against LGBT patients and their families.   The Joint Commission standards and the new Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs) require hospitals to explain to all patients their right to choose who may visit them during an inpatient stay, regardless of whether the visitor is a family member, a spouse, a domestic partner, or another type of visitor.  These changes also protect patients’ right to choose a representative to act on their behalf, requiring hospitals to give deference to patients’ wishes concerning their representatives.   Revisiting Your Hospital’s Visitation Policy can be viewed at www.healthlawyers.org/HospitalVisit .   

“The Joint Commission standards and the regulations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have set us on the path to LGBT healthcare equality,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “But even with this progress, the most well-intentioned hospital administrator may need help to best serve LGBT patients.  We are proud to partner with the American Health Lawyers Association to provide this important resource, which complements our National LGBT Healthcare Equality Index for healthcare facilities.”

Revisiting Your Hospital’s Visitation Policy is a primer on what hospitals need to know to comply with accrediting criteria and federal regulations on LGBT-inclusive healthcare.  As healthcare facilities transition to more LGBT-friendly policies and procedures, they can turn to HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) for expert guidance, assessing their policies and operations against established best practices for LGBT-inclusive care. The HEI also helps LGBT patients find healthcare free of prejudice and discrimination, empowering them to seek out healthcare providers who embrace LGBT healthcare equality.  Learn more at www.hrc.org/hei.  While the HEI is a vital tool for healthcare facilities and patients, all LGBT individuals can protect themselves from healthcare discrimination by creating legal documents, including a living will and healthcare power of attorney. Learn more at www.hrc.org/protect-your-rights.

Last year, The Joint Commission released a field guide on LGBT patient-centered care: Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community. The field guide urges U.S. hospitals to create a more welcoming, safe, and inclusive environment for LGBT patients and their families. The Joint Commission is the nation’s largest accrediting organization for healthcare facilities, responsible for accrediting and certifying more than 19,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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