Medical groups urge protections for healthcare workers providing gender-affirming care

By By Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter, health day reporter

(Health Day)

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Three leading medical groups have called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate growing threats to doctors, hospitals and families who provide and seek gender-affirming care .

In a letter to the United States Attorney General, Merrick Garland, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) called for prompt action to investigate and prosecute all organizations and individuals involved.

“Whether it’s newborns in intensive care, children undergoing cancer treatment, or families accessing compassionate care for their transgender teens, all patients who seek treatment deserve to get the care they need without fear for their personal safety,” said AAP President Dr. Moira Szilagyi.

“We cannot sit idly by as threats of violence against our members and their patients proliferate with little consequence,” Szilagyi said in a joint press release. “We call on the Department of Justice to investigate these attacks and social media platforms to reduce the spread of misinformation that enables them.”

The organizations noted in their letter that the AAP and AMA collectively represent more than 270,000 physicians and medical students. CHA represents more than 220 children’s hospitals in the United States.

The threats have affected hospitals and health care providers across the country, from Boston to Seattle, the letter says. Suppliers need additional security. Staff and families experience “high and justifiable fear”.

“Individuals in all workplaces are entitled to a safe environment, free from harm and free from intimidation or retaliation,” said WADA President Dr. Jack Resneck Jr.

“As physicians, we condemn groups that promote hate-motivated intolerance and toxic misinformation that can lead to serious real-world violence and extremism and compromise patient health outcomes. AMA will continue to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to develop and implement strategies that protect doctors and other hard-working, law-abiding healthcare workers from acts of violence, senseless abuse and intimidation,” Resneck said in the statement.

These providers are under threat for providing federally protected, evidence-based care, the groups noted.

In their letter, they wrote: “Our organizations are dedicated to the health and well-being of all children and adolescents. We are committed to providing the full spectrum of patient care, from prevention to critical care. We are alongside doctors, nurses, mental health specialists and other healthcare professionals who provide evidence-based health care, including gender-affirming care, to children and adolescents.”

Coordinated disinformation campaigns on social media are making matters worse, the groups said.

Medical organizations have also taken to tech platforms, including Twitter, TikTok and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to do more against organized campaigns that lead to harassment against hospitals and their staff. They called for strong action when lies are spread about specific doctors and institutions, and urged social media companies to enforce their own safety and conduct policies.

“We are committed to providing safe, supportive and inclusive healthcare environments for every child and every family, and for the clinicians and staff who are dedicated to caring for children,” said ACH President, Amy Wimpey Knight. “Threats and acts of violence are not a solution, or a substitute, for civil dialogue on matters of health and well-being of a child or adolescent.”

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, Children’s Hospital Association, press release, October 3, 2022

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