An annual survey by the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, found that more than 95 percent of more than 400 hospitals and clinics surveyed included sexual orientation in nondiscrimination policies and nearly 80 percent included gender identity in those policies.
NAPLES — An increasing number of U.S. hospitals have adopted policies that explicitly ban discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual patients, according to a report released Tuesday and reported by the Washington Post.
An annual survey by the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, found that more than 95 percent of more than 400 hospitals and clinics surveyed included sexual orientation in nondiscrimination policies and nearly 80 percent included gender identity in those policies. Additionally, more than 65 percent of inpatient hospitals had explicit policies granting equal visitation rights to same-sex couples and same-sex parents.
Last year, the Joint Commission, the largest accrediting organization for U.S. hospitals, issued new standards specifically prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In Southwest Florida, the Lee Memorial Healthcare System, which operates four hospitals in Lee County, had practices in place prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation for patient visitation before it became federal law in 2011, hospital spokeswoman Mary Briggs said.
"Our policies and procedures have always advocated equitable treatment without discrimination," she said. "We formalized the language that specifically bans discrimination for gender identity and sexual orientation into our visitation policy in 2011, shortly before the government mandate went into effect."
The NCH Healthcare System, with two hospitals in Collier County, formulated its non-discrimination policy when it became federal law and was included as a condition for participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, said Rodney Judd, NCH's director of patient relations and regulatory compliance.
"I'm not able to recall any complaint that our department has received in this regard," Judd said.
Physicians Regional Healthcare System, with two hospitals in Collier, is committed to treating all patients and visitors alike, spokeswoman Taylor Hamilton said.
The hospitals pledge to treat all patients equally, she said.
"When a patient is admitted to our facility, they are asked to designate a surrogate as part of their advance directives," Hamilton said. "This surrogate designation has the legal ability to make medical decisions for the patient if they are unable to make them on their own. At the naming of a surrogate, the patient can include instructions about any treatment they want or do not want, similar to a living will."