Accreditation

Gender identity and healthcare: How hospitals should approach gender issues in care delivery

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, September 1, 2017

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Editor’s note: The following is written by Maria Del Pilar Messner, corporate director of accreditation, regulations, and licensing at Adventist Health.

A patient is being registered at a hospital. Registration requests to see identification, which states that the patient is male. However, the patient identifies as female, and the electronic medical record (EMR) only has male or female fields. Which one should the registrar select?

Gender identity is a person’s internal sense of being a man, a woman, both, or neither. What a person identifies as might or might not be the sex assigned to them at birth. In recent years, CMS, The Joint Commission, and the Affordable Care Act have changed their standards and regulations to prohibit discriminating against patients because of their gender identity.

Every facility wants to give the best possible care to every patient who walks through its doors, regardless of what they identify as. But how do we show through documentation that we are providing a nondiscriminatory care environment for our patients? Here are a few ideas and approaches to consider.

Gender identity task force and charter

The goal is to address patients according to their gender identity and preferred name. But part of this must involve capturing this information and documenting it accordingly.

To meet that challenge, I recommend creating a gender identity task force. As gender identity is important information for various disciplines, the task force should include a wide range of stakeholders. The chief medical officer and your EMR vendor should serve on the task force, as well as departments such as the following:

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