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TJC Standards Mum On LGBT Policies

Karen M. Cheung, July 1, 2010

New medical staff standards effective July 1 aim to prohibit discrimination for medical staff membership and clinical privileges, but fail to specify issues related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

Last month, The Joint Commission (formerly JACHO) reintroduced medical staff standards that prohibit discrimination for medical staff membership and clinical privileges. Missing from the language, however, were specifics related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

Effective July 1, the element of performance (EP) in approved standards, MS.06.01.07 and MS.07.01.01, specify that accredited hospitals cannot make medical staff privileging or appointment decisions -- that is, granting or denying practitioners -- based on gender, race, creed, and national origin. The current language, however, does not address sexual orientation or gender identity and/or expression.

"At this time, there are no plans to address sexual orientation in the medical staff standards," said Kenneth Powers, media relations manager of The Joint Commission in a statement to HCPro/HealthLeaders Media. "Sexual orientation will be part of the cultural sensitivity standards as related to patients."

As the largest accrediting body, The Joint Commission accredits more than 17,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the country.

AMA policy

Nevertheless, the American Medical Association (AMA) does include such language for providers. In 2007, AMA updated its antidiscrimination language to include transgender persons to the already addressed sexual orientation clause in its policy.

"The AMA affirms that it has not been its policy now or in the past to discriminate with regard to sexual orientation or gender identity," states the AMA Policy Regarding Sexual Orientation. "Membership in any category of the AMA or in any of its constituent associations shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, color, creed, race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or for any other reason unrelated to character, competence, ethics, professional status or professional activities," states the AMA policy.

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