What To Do If You Experience Discrimination

The LGBTQ community is more likely to experience discrimination in healthcare settings than our non-LGBTQ counterparts – learn about steps you can take if you aren’t treated fairly.

You have various options to file a complaint after experiencing discrimination from a healthcare facility or individual healthcare provider. Complaints may be completed online, mailed, faxed, or delivered via phone. Although you have the option of filing a complaint and remaining anonymous, you will need to provide the date and a detailed description of the incident.


Federal regulations require hospitals participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs (which is the vast majority of hospitals) to establish a patient grievance process that allows patients to address concerns without fear of retribution or discrimination.

Information about your right to file a complaint, grievance, or appeal about the care you received should be included in the hospital’s Patient Bill of Rights. Several hospitals have a Patient Relations Department which acts as a liaison between patients, families, visitors and the hospital's administration. The Department is available to help you reach a resolution or provide more information.

The Joint Commission

Approximately 80% of the nation’s hospitals are accredited by the Joint Commission, a private, non-profit group that acts as a national accrediting organization. The Joint Commission requires that hospitals prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression and will review all quality of care complaints.

You or your family may contact the Joint Commission at 1-800-994-6610 or via e-mail at patientsafetyreport@jointcommission.org. The Joint Commision also allows you to file an online complaint.

State Health Departments

Many state health departments have a hospital licensing division and may also have a way for you to file a complaint if they have violated state laws and regulations.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) developed an online resource with website, phone, address, and e-mail contact information for your state health department.

If you want to file a complaint against a healthcare provider, look for the state licensing board for that type of provider (for example - the state’s nursing licensing board). 

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

You may file an online complaint with the Office of Civil Rights if you feel a healthcare provider or facility discriminated against you (or someone else) unlawfully. In addition, complaints may be sent by email to OCRComplaint@hhs.gov.

Legal Intervention

You or your family may seek legal intervention by contacting an LGBTQ-friendly attorney or law firm. Lambda Legal’s Help Desk can be contacted toll-free at 866-542-8336 or online.

The Human Rights Campaign reports on news, events and resources of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that are of interest to the general public and further our common mission to support the LGBTQ community.

Health & Aging