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Improving Care for Transgender Patients

By PSQH  
   September 15, 2017

The transgender population is at nine times the risk for attempted suicide as the general population. "This is really a public health crisis," says one expert.

This article first appeared July/August issue of PSQH: Public Safety & Quality Healthcare.

By Megan Headley

Seven years ago, Sue Boisvert, senior risk specialist at medical professional liability insurer Coverys, found that she was starting to get more questions from her hospital and physician practice clients about transgender patients.

“I thought it was really interesting,” Boisvert says. “It was a completely new twist and not something I knew much about, so I started doing a lot of research.”

The biggest questions she received: 

  • Should we change the patient’s name in the record?
  • Should we change the patient’s gender in the record?
  • How do we refer to the patient?

Boisvert, who lives and works in Maine, notes her state is fairly open to different lifestyles. But not all physicians are so open to learning more about helping transgender patients. A 2010 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force states:

“Denial of health care and multiple barriers to care are commonplace in the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming people. Subjects in our study seeking health care were denied equal treatment in doctor’s offices and hospitals (24%), emergency rooms (13%), mental health clinics (11%), by EMTs (5%), and in drug treatment programs (3%). … Nineteen percent (19%) had been refused treatment by a doctor or other provider because of their transgender or gender non-conforming status.”

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