Emergency rooms inhospitable to transgender patients
Published Thursday, March 13, 2014 3:20PM EDT
A new Western University study has found most transgender patients have had negative experiences while trying to get care in Ontario's emergency departments.
Wes Heney can certainly relate.
"I've been in health care where I had two nurses argue in front of me over who would do my blood work because no one wanted to touch me," says Heney.
Author Dr. Greta Bauer said in a statement, "As far as we're aware, this paper represents the first published paper to examine the experiences of transgender patients in emergency department settings."
Published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the study found 52 per cent of transgender patients surveyed had experienced at least one negative experience listed while presenting in their chosen gender.
Some of the experiences included having a doctor refuse care or refuse to examine parts of their body.
When Heney went to hospital with a stomach virus, his treatment was delayed.
"I've been told, 'No, we are not going to help you to the bathroom. Go yourself.' I collapsed and they were very indignant about having to help me back up. So, no, I wasn't refused treatment, but it was delayed and postponed and sub par and I left 24 hours later in tears."
Some 32 per cent reported experiencing hurtful or insulting language while 31 per cent were told the healthcare provider didn't know enough to provide care.
The study also found 21 per cent of transgender Ontarians have avoided emergency rooms during a potential medical emergency because of fear of negative experiences.
In all 408 transgender people in Ontario were included in the study, 214 female-to-male and 195 male-to-female.
An editorial accompanying the study is calling for better training of medical students and residents, providing safe environments within emergency departments like gender-neutral washrooms and monitoring the care provided.