The Joint Commission Releases Speak Up Against Discrimination Campaign


The Joint Commission Releases Speak Up Against Discrimination Campaign

The Joint Commission of Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, recently released Speak Up Against Discrimination, an educational campaign that encourages patients to speak up if discriminated against while receiving healthcare, according to a release.

The campaign comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has brought health inequities and disparities to the forefront, the release states. 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 rights patients have, including

  • timely and appropriate care that is free from discrimination;
  • being treated with courtesy and respect; and
  • 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, such as

  • find out about the healthcare organization’s policy for reporting complaints. If possible, try to work with the organization;
  • talk to 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 US Department of Health & Human Services, or with their state’s health department;
  • contact the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division; and
  • 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,” said Ana Pujols McKee, MD, executive vice president, chief medical officer, and chief diversity and inclusion officer of The Joint Commission, in the release. “Every patient deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Unfortunately, institutional, systemic racism and bias still exist in healthcare. While we have Joint Commission standards and requirements in place to help healthcare 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.”

The Speak Up campaign includes an informational poster in both English and Spanish, as well as an animated video that features patients being discriminated against by healthcare professionals and another patient featuring inequity to care based on location.

Organizations are free to reproduce and disseminate Speak Up Against Discrimination materials if they credit The Joint Commission.