The Joint Commission released Speak Up Against Discrimination, a new campaign that encourages patients to speak up if they have faced discrimination while receiving healthcare. The campaign comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has brought health inequities and disparities to the forefront.
Differences in the quality of care received by patients or barriers and impediments to care can be due to a wide range of factors, including access to care or lack of resources, age, education level, gender identity or expression, geographic location, language, physical or mental ability, race or ethnicity, religion or culture, sexual orientation, and social and/or economic status. The Speak Up campaign lists patients’ rights They include:
- Timely and appropriate care that is free from discrimination.
- Being treated with courtesy and respect.
- An interpreter who can help effectively communicate with care providers.
Additionally, the campaign includes several recommended steps that patients can take if they experience discrimination and substandard care:
- Inquire about the healthcare organization’s policy for reporting complaints. If possible, try to work with the organization.
- Talk to someone in the organization’s patient advocacy department (sometimes called the patient liaison office or the patient advocacy team).
- File a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or with your state’s health department.
- Contact the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
If the issue remains unaddressed and the organization is accredited or certified by The Joint Commission, report a patient safety concern to its Office of Quality and Patient Safety.
“The Joint Commission has no tolerance for discrimination in healthcare – every patient deserves to be treated with respect and dignity,” says Ana Pujols McKee, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, The Joint Commission.
“Unfortunately, institutional, systemic racism and bias still exist in health care. While we have Joint Commission standards and requirements in place to help health care organizations provide care that is free from discrimination, I strongly encourage any patient who receives discriminatory care to speak up and act. By doing so, you may help future patients from being discriminated against.”