Gays in hospital-Hospital Visitation and Medical Decision Making for Same-Sex Couples - Center for American Progress

In February , Janice Langbehn was denied the right to visit her same-sex partner in the intensive care unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. Langbehn and her partner, Lisa Pond, were vacationing with their three children when Pond suffered an aneurysm. At the hospital, nurses and doctors refused to let Langbehn or her children see Pond, and they did not provide them with adequate updates on her condition. Pond eventually slipped into a coma and died while her family members were trying to persuade administrators to let them into her room. Lambda Legal—a nonprofit organization that focuses on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, community—then filed a lawsuit against Jackson Memorial on behalf of Langbehn.

Gays in hospital

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The issue is addressed in a new report from The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights group, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

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In February , Janice Langbehn was denied the right to visit her same-sex partner in the intensive care unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. Langbehn and her partner, Lisa Pond, were vacationing with their three children when Pond suffered an aneurysm. At the hospital, nurses and doctors refused to let Langbehn or her children see Pond, and they did not provide them with adequate updates on her condition.

Pond eventually slipped into a coma and died while her family members were trying to persuade administrators to let them into her room. Lambda Legal—a nonprofit organization that focuses on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, community—then filed a lawsuit against Jackson Memorial on behalf of Langbehn. The case drew national media attention that eventually prompted the White House to address equal visitation and medical decision-making rights for same-sex couples.

The regulations prohibit these types of discrimination in hospital visitation and make it clear that designated visitors should be permitted access to patients regardless of whether they have a legally recognized relationship. These regulations also require hospitals to have written guidelines and inform patients of their visitation rights. Advance directives include health care proxies , which are documents that allow patients to designate who will be given visitation priority if they end up in the hospital for any reason.

These forms also serve as a medical power of attorney, allowing patients to authorize their partners to make medical decisions on their behalf if they were to become incapacitated.

Nearly a year after issuing the regulations, HHS released a guidance letter in September to implement and enforce visitation, health care proxy, and advance-directive requirements.

Through this guidance, HHS required State Survey Agencies , which conduct compliance inspections on behalf of CMS, to ensure that hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs have established written policies to implement the November regulations. Despite these advances, disheartening circumstances continue to arise in which people are denied the right to visit their same-sex partners in the hospital.

These complications occur even when couples have proof of their relationships. In Nevada, Terri-Ann Simonelli was denied visitation rights in August despite being in a domestic partnership with Brittney Leon, who was having pregnancy complications.

Although domestic partnerships grant the same state rights as marriage in Nevada—including visitation and medical decision making—Simonelli was told she needed a power of attorney to visit her partner. Simonelli had to sit outside and wait for updates from the doctors while Leon lost their baby.

Although both of these families experienced discrimination, neither pressed charges. Families that endure the trauma and financial burden that often come with hospital visits should not be the ones that have to fight for their rights in court, especially when the federal government already has policies that should prevent this discrimination in the first place.

The hospitals that denied visitation rights for Roger Gorley and Terri-Ann Simonelli accept Medicare and Medicaid insurance and are therefore held to all of the visitation and health care proxy standards set forth by CMS. The provision incorporates the sex-based protections of Title IX, which HHS has clearly acknowledged to include protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotypes.

Courts are increasingly taking the view that nondiscrimination on the basis of sex includes protections on the basis of sexual orientation, and HHS has the authority to incorporate this interpretation into regulations implementing Section Section should thus be used as additional grounds for HHS to investigate hospitals that discriminate against same-sex couples.

As in the cases above, people who have been through this trauma may not want to pursue, or be able to afford, these legal battles on their own. Lastly, HHS has broad regulatory authority, both apart from and under the Affordable Care Act, that it should explicitly use to apply nondiscrimination protections to all programs overseen by CMS, including Medicare and Medicaid. CMS also has the authority to adopt these protections under the same authority that it used to promulgate regulations pertaining to hospital visitation.

Advance directives are nothing new. Living wills were first put into CMS regulations to address elder care in Section President Obama used a memorandum to advertise this year-old law, which is available to everyone but is not frequently put to use by families who encounter unexpected medical emergencies.

Front-line staff—such as intake staff, administrators, and nurses—should be educated on their use and applicability. In order to encourage such culturally competent hospital environments, HHS should take additional steps to guide hospital administrators on informing these staff members about the importance of advance directives.

It has consistently accredited the hospitals that discriminated against Gorley and Simonelli since and , respectively. By making LGBT health care competency an integral and specified component of accreditation—one that is subject to the same stringent review and compliance processes as other requirements—facilities would be held to a higher standard for serving all patients. Seven years after Lisa Pond died without her partner or her children by her bedside, same-sex couples still face discrimination in hospital visitation.

Her death resulted in heightened national attention and departmental action to address this issue. Regulators and accreditation agencies must take action to enforce visitation regulations, protect these families, and ensure that hospital personnel provide responsible services to patients and their loved ones without discrimination.

Advance directives Advance directives are nothing new. Conclusion Seven years after Lisa Pond died without her partner or her children by her bedside, same-sex couples still face discrimination in hospital visitation.

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Gays in hospital

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health | Healthy People

The issue is addressed in a new report from The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights group, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

The groups have created a Healthcare Equality Index for hospitals that focuses on five key areas: patient rights, visitation, decision-making, cultural competency training and employment policies and benefits. This year, facilities across the country agreed to participate in the report, about twice as many as last year.

The group says nearly 75 percent of the hospitals have policies to protect their patients from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Some examples of unfair treatment of gay couples cited by the group include:. Who is this person to you? Do you have legal documentation that verifies that? Although many hospitals have improved their treatment of same-sex couples, partners are advised to keep legal documents close by in the event of a medical emergency.

Friends should also have ready access to documents so they can fax or e-mail them if necessary. Kahn said. Am I going to be better off saying this is my sister or this is my life partner? Go to a lawyer and designate your same-sex partner as the health care proxy power of attorney. Carry the document with you when you go to the hospital.

There is no way the hospital can deny you access. They were still denied. This is why marriage equality has to be put into law at the federal level. Obama, Pelosi, are you listening?

As I read the examples this article provides my stomach churned. Though I chastise myself for being so naive, I remain amazed in episodes like this still occur. It amazes me that caregivers, of all people, would put up barriers like this.

This makes me so angry! My partner and I have thought very carefully about where we live precisely so we do have rights to protect. Mary Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Cheney, lives in Virginia, a state that has a terrible record of recognizing same sex partners. Thank you so much for writing about this important issue!

It breaks my heart to think that loving, committed couples may be separated from each other when one of them is dying. There is no excuse for hospitals to keep same sex couples apart at such a critical time! I wonder how a husband or wife under the protection of traditional marriage would feel if he or she were suddenly denied seeing their spouse.

Is this about liability somehow? Why do hospitals keep that from happening? TPP, response to 1. For health care proxy, there is NO requirement for any relationship whatsoever, except the health care proxy designation. For the children of registered domestic partners, I believe they have parental rights also, but they should bring the documents. Yes, there is undue discrimination, but if you bring the documents, it will be hard for them to deny you.

In fact, it would be best if everyone, including married couples, brought documents. Hospitals are afraid that they may be sued by patients and their families if medical decisions are made by those who are unauthorized to make them.

It has happened, not infrequently. She has a lot of devoted friends and distant relatives where she lives. So, she has various people interacting with doctors, nurses, and social workers to get what she wants. But others can seem to wrangle practically anything, with the right approach. It is abhorrent that medical providers today continue to discriminate against gay and lesbian patients, in so many ways.

We have only one hospital in our medium-sized town in Arizona, and we thank our lucky stars that we have, so far, been treated as any other couple, no problems raised. We hope that, by that time, our civil marriage is recognized all across this country without our having to deal with the problems pointed out in this article.

Tara, thanks for discussing this and for pointing out how real this problem is. My partner and I have a half-inch-thick folder of legal documents including wills, durable power of attorney, and advance directives.

We are also registered domestic partners in our state Washington , which by law assures us rights in hospital visitation and medical decision making. If we were to experience an emergency outside our state we travel often , we could easily run into any of the situations you mention.

We do our best to be prepared, but it sickens me that something like this could ever happen to us. Another word about health care proxies. Every adult unmarried person should have one, and even some married people. With rare exception it is absolutely the best way to ensure that your wishes will be carried out if you are incapacitated. While living wills are a start, there is no way such a document can forsee every little twist that inevitably occurs during an illness. You need the human element, with its face-to-face communication and the judgement of someone you trust during a crisis.

NOT some doctor, nurse or family member trying to figure out what you mean in your living will. You do not need to go to a lawyer! A health care proxy needs two regular witnesses only not the designees , and is and should be free. Regarding carrying around a folder with various legal paperwork… How about you scan the documents into pdf and just carry around a flash memory drive?

What if they get lost, damaged, or stolen?? This also effects heterosexual couples. The doors of trust and compassion that flew open amazed me. I tell my patients to scan any documentation such as this into a computer and then email it to themselves. If they have to go to a hospital, all they need to do is pick up their email from any hospital computer and print out the documentatiion.

As an RN, I have seen this happen. Unfortunately, if one partner is dying, the family will gather and tell the staff not to admit the partner in the relationship in which they disapprove. Nevermind that the family has not seen this person in years or helped take care of him while he was dying.

And, when he dies, the family may declare the will and all other legal documents null and void and the partner is denied anything and everything they were promised. Thank you for this article. This highlights some of the many inequalities same sex couples face everyday in our supposedly free society. The Civil Rights Movement needs to push these kinds of true life stories to the forefront of our national dialogue. One such company is Docubank.

Having those documents available 24 hours a day like that gives peace of mind. On another note, one of my same sex clients died recently of an aneurysm.

It took only four hours for him to pass away. His same sex partner could not even order the death certificate. There is no substitute for legal marriage. Yes, a proxie can be anyone, relative, friend or neighbor. Just fill out the form.

You do not have to state any relationship. In other words, in spite of creating a legal document to overcome any potential discrimination, due to lack of gay marriage in Florida, these women were penalized for being gay. Do you all get it now? They refused. Pond died in February, Langbehn had power of attorney for Pond, meaning that Pond had appointed Langbehn as her lawful agent to make medical decisions for her if she became unable to do so. Certainly, a tragic case.

The Langbehn-Pond family lived in Washington state and only visited Florida for a cruise. Pond suffered a sudden aneurysm and died unexpectedly, while she was so young.

Before my husband and I got married, three times I directed the hospital that he and only he had authorization to my records and I excluded specific blood relatives , signed all the necessary documents, etc. These problems encouraged us to get married.

We discussed at length the problems that gay couples must face. Perhaps the solution is for the government to strip straight couples of basic rights, like social security and spousal health insurance and rights to visit in the hospital. Odd that traditional marriage advocates have had nothing to say on this. Then again, there position is based on what they consider the religious sanctity of marriage, where as this, in my opinion is one of the core issues facing same sex couples that could be solved by legalizing same sex marriage.

See next articles. Joshua Lott for the New York Times For same-sex couples, a ring and legal papers may not be enough to navigate the health system. Alex Lickerman, M. Barb in Flagstaff, AZ. Re post 1 You do not need to go to a lawyer! Response to 11 I tell my patients to scan any documentation such as this into a computer and then email it to themselves. Not perfect, but better than nothing. Such a sad story.

Gays in hospital

Gays in hospital

Gays in hospital