Cultural competency has gained a stronger foothold in health care over the past decade. Still, while strategies to provide care without bias have helped reduce disparities among minority populations, the same can’t be said for those in the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community.
Lack of trust between patient and provider can have a significant impact in workers’ comp. Statistics from the Institute of Medicine and the Kaiser Family Foundation show that LGBTQ individuals are more likely to delay or not seek the medical treatment they need because of the discrimination they’ve experienced in the past.
To compound matters, some states offer little legal confidentiality protection for this population. While patient confidentiality is universally governed by HIPAA, this isn’t the case in workers’ comp which is exempt from this privacy law. This may cause gay or transgender individuals to not disclose their sexual orientation to a medical professional because for fear it could get back to their employer and open them up to more discrimination.
If they’re already facing some discrimination from coworkers or their peers, it’s going to decrease their productivity, job satisfaction, motivation to go back to work. What can we do to give these individuals the support they need and help them return-to-work safely and efficiently?
You can find some solutions from this recent interview, Treating LGBTQ Injured Workers: Gaining Cultural Competence, Building Trust.