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Medical care for transgender patients may not be up to par

When we visit the doctor, we expect to be treated by a professional who has the appropriate training, education and experience to assess our specific situation. Sometimes we may get referred elsewhere or meet with multiple doctors before receiving a diagnosis, but the fact is there is an expectation that we as patients are in capable hands.

However, this isn't always the case. For example, one particularly troubling issue facing patients and the medical community currently is care practices and policies for the transgender community.

Treating transgender patients requires extra consideration on the part of doctors. Many medical professionals are not trained or experienced in treating someone who is transgender and can overlook some critical elements of that person's care.

For example, many transgender men still require female-specific procedures like pap smears while transgender women should be screened for problems related to the prostate. Failure to understand this can lead to missed or delayed diagnoses.

Further, transgender patients are typically taking hormones as part of their transition process. A doctor may tell a patient to stop taking hormone treatments without realizing what that would do to a patient. 

Transgender patients also commonly deal with discrimination by doctors and other health care workers. According to a survey of 6,000 transgender respondents, nearly 20 percent have been denied health care while a third decided against visiting a doctor because of previous negative experiences.

Hospitals argue that they face some complicated challenges when it comes to providing care for transgender patients from a biological standpoint; it is also unrealistic to assume every doctor is experienced in trans medicine. However, this should not mean that a person's health can be put in jeopardy.

Currently, hospitals across the U.S. are making efforts to improve care for transgender patients, but there is a long way to go.

What we hope readers take away from this post is the fact that members of the transgender community face challenges when it comes to medical care. While some of these may stem from the realities of outdated policies or lacking resources for transgender patients, others are the result of malpractice and substandard care practices. If you have suffered an injury or illness as a result of negligent or unlawful care, you should understand that you have the right to take legal action and pursue compensation.

Source: The New York Times, "Transgender Patients Face Challenges at the Hospital," Abby Ellin, Feb. 16, 2016

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