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Kimberly D. Acquaviva, PhD, MSW, CSE
When a critically ill or injured person needs the services of a critical care team, they are at their most vulnerable. Their life is in the hands of a group of healthcare professionals they have probably never met before. They may not have the ability to ask questions, express their wishes, or register a complaint about the way they are being treated. Even if they are able to speak, they may feel voiceless.
For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender-nonconforming, queer, and/or questioning (LGBTQ) people, that feeling of voicelessness may be compounded by fears of discrimination. Those fears are not unfounded. In 29 states, there are no public accommodation nondiscrimination laws preventing hospitals from discriminating against patients based on sexual orientation or gender identity.1
However, you do not have to change the nondiscrimination laws in your state before you can make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ patients and families. Here are six simple strategies that trained intensivists and critical care specialists can use to improve the critical care experience of the LGBTQ patients and families they serve:
1. Educate yourself about the differences between sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and sexual behavior. Even if you think you already understand each of these concepts, take a few minutes to review them. I have posted free, easy-tounderstand infographics on my website: www.kimberly-acquaviva.com
2. Ask every conscious and communicative patient these
seven questions during the intake process: