The Standards for general practices (5th edition) (the Standards) asks practices to consider and respect patients’ rights, identity, body diversity, beliefs, and religious and cultural backgrounds when providing patient healthcare.
Criterion C2.1 of the Standards explores respectful and culturally appropriate care for patients and suggests a range of ways practices can demonstrate consideration and respect for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and asexual (LGBTIQA+) patients, such as:
- maintaining a policy of acknowledging, recording and implementing the names and pronouns used by each patient
- demonstrating that patients’ assigned sex at birth, variations of sex characteristics (intersex status) and gender are recorded separately in your clinical software
- meeting a patient’s request for a practitioner they feel comfortable with, if possible
- holding meetings for the clinical team to discuss and identify the unique health needs of LGBTIQA+ patients and those of other gender and sexual diversities
- displaying LGBTIQA+ symbols and/or flags.
Collecting information about sex, gender, variations of sex characteristics and sexual orientation
Missing or misrepresented information in a patient’s health record can have substantial implications for clinical care delivery. If a patient’s assigned sex at birth and gender are conflated and inaccurately recorded, appropriate treatments might not be offered.
Practices need to explain to patients the reason for collecting information about sex and gender so they know their information is being confidentially collected for their own health outcomes, not for discriminatory or judgemental reasons.
For the best health outcomes, practices need to ask for and separately record details about a patient’s sex, gender, variations of sex characteristics and sexual orientation. Your practice could do the following to improve the accuracy of responses when collecting this information from patients:
- Clearly explain why questions are being asked and how answers will be used.
- Use forms that allow patients to choose from multiple fields (eg see formats for preferred question and answer options below).
- Ask patients what pronouns they use, then document and use this information (eg in referral letters).
- Ask questions that distinguish between identity (ie male/female) and descriptors of behaviour, attraction and experience (ie ask who your patient’s sexual partners are).
For more information about how your practice can support LGBTIQA+ patients through the collection and recording of information, see: