A group representing 20,000 Pennsylvania doctors and medical students is hoping to shed light on continued disparities in health care access for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) is recommending expanded access, increased research and funding for research, and a better dissemination of research results.
“So that even if someone is not aware that they have many of this type of patient within their practice, they at least have an awareness of the differences and sort of the appropriate cultural knowledge of the problems that are within that community,” said Dr. Martin Trichtinger, speaker for the PAMED House of Delegates, which held their annual meeting last month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to research which indicates that the LGBT disparities in access and care; as a result the population experiences higher rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse and suicide. Another issue, according to Trichtinger, is a lack of disclosure to physicians.
“There is almost a fear of revealing information so that physicians sometimes don’t get the whole story and the fastest way to get the wrong diagnosis or even to miss a diagnosis is to not get all the information,” he said.
Even with full disclosure, though, some physicians still aren’t up to date on how to treat issues that may be unique to the LGBT community, according to Trichtinger. He said, though his training was many years ago, one thing sticks out and still needs to be improved upon.
“Never in my medical training, both in medical school or in residency, was there every any kind of addressing of LGBT kind of issues and having that as a separate entity,” said Trichtinger.
Trichtinger said shedding more light on health disparities and issues of access and communication is a first step in improving health outcomes for LGBT individuals. The PAMED Society’s House of Delegates adopted a resolution at last month’s annual meeting to advocate for policies that expand access and eliminate healthcare disparities for the state’s LGBT population.