|February 18, 2011 |
Sacramento- Today, Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) introduced the LGBT Cultural Competency for Health Care Providers bill (SB 747), sponsored by Equality California, which seeks to provide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people with a safe and welcoming environment when being cared for in hospitals, medical offices, or mental health facilities. If passed, the bill would require regulatory boards that license or certify health care personnel to mandate continuing medical education (CME) or equivalent educational training on LGBT cultural competency in health care.
“All Californians deserve access to safe and culturally competent healthcare providers who are able to address their individual health needs,” said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors. “LGBT Californians often struggle to find a doctor and healthcare providers who are knowledgeable about their unique medical needs. This bill would ensure that licensed healthcare professionals are equipped with the knowledge and experience needed to adequately serve the LGBT community.”
In 1996 the American Medical Association (AMA) made a public call to improve the education of health care personnel regarding best practices for improving care provided to LGBT patients. Despite the AMA’s recommendations, from 1996 to 2005, the quality of care provided to LGBT patients in the U.S. did not improve substantially.
“The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community has specific medical needs and concerns and it’s critical that health care professionals across California receive the necessary training to understand those needs and provide compassionate and improved patient care,” said Senator Kehoe.
Annual study results in the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) indicate that there are less than 40 California health facilities that are known to have strong LGBT cultural competency training. There are hundreds of hospitals and thousands of medical offices and mental health facilities whose policies and procedures regarding LGBT health care are unknown. Based on the AMA’s conclusions and the experiences of LGBT patients regarding ongoing treatment disparities, it is highly unlikely that the facilities surveyed in the HEI are providing LGBT culturally competent healthcare.