A North Carolina woman is speaking out after finding her doctor’s office listed her sexual orientation as a ‘problem’ on her medical chart, telling InsideEdition.com that she was shocked by her longtime healthcare provider’s apparent need to label her homosexuality.
Kristina Rodriguez, 29, said she made the mind-boggling discovery after visiting Lake Park Family Practice in Indian Trail, about 15 miles southeast of Charlotte, on January 9 and 12, for routine appointments to get blood work done.
“I was looking over my paperwork and noticed under my medical problems — on the front page and on the pages to follow — it said ‘lesbianism,’” Rodriguez said. "At first I laughed, like a, 'Is this real?' sort of thing, and then, I obviously got pretty angry, because it doesn’t belong there."
The married mother-of-two said she called the practice to discuss the note.
“The receptionist apologized to me and said she’d make a note of it, and I wasn’t really happy with that response,” she said, noting she then decided to share her experience on social media.
Sharing a photo of the paperwork, on which “lesbianism” was listed under the category “problem list,” along with “anemia” and “situational anxiety,” Rodriguez wrote that her experience left her speechless.
“If this were listed under sexual orientation up near the top that would be one thing, but I wasn’t aware that being legally married to a same sex partner was a medical condition/problem,” she wrote on Facebook.
The two other items on the list had been marked “resolved,” but no note was written next to Rodriguez’s so-called “lesbianism.”
As her post began to gain traction, Rodriguez said she was contacted by her doctor, who apologized for listing her sexual orientation as a problem on her chart and then offered up an explanation, which she claims left her even more confused.
“He said that ironically he actually put that on there to protect me from anybody offending me or making any type of offensive comments,” she said. “He said ‘I know the dynamic of your family'... He said he didn’t want anyone asking where my husband was by accident... But that’s not offensive; that’s normal. I don’t need someone to protect me from that.”
Rodriguez said she has gone to that doctor, whom she declined to name, for more than 15 years, and they had never before discussed her sexual orientation.
“We’d never talked about this: that was the other thing – I didn’t know that he was placing this on my chart and I feel that you have a right to know the things placed on your chart,” she told InsideEdition.com. “I was actually sending some of these documents to my job. I work for a very, very forward-thinking company, but if I worked for a faith-based organization that wasn’t so accepting... it’ could’ve cost me my job.”
Rodriguez said she has not yet decided whether she will change doctors, saying that decision will depend on how they act going forward, but she chose to speak out to remind those who might be struggling with their sexual identity that it is not a "problem."
"My intentions are not to blast the doctor... I would love to take his word for it and think he didn’t have any ill intentions, but I don’t know,” she said. “I’m doing this to spread awareness that this doesn’t belong on your medical charts. The suicide rate among the LGBTQ community is so high... so for someone to get that paperwork and see that listed under ‘medical problems’ on their chart... that could really set them back.”
The rate of suicide attempts is four times greater for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual youth and two times higher for questioning youth than that of straight youth, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I’ve always been surrounded by so much love and so much support... my kids were baptized in the Catholic church a little over a year ago, and I hadn’t received anything like that from the father, so from my doctor, of all places?” Rodriguez said. “We’re regular people; we don’t need to be labeled, or ‘protected’ or treated any differently than anyone else. We’ve come really far, really far, but obviously we still have some work to do.”
Carolinas HealthCare System, which operates Lake Park Family Practice, said in a statement provided to InsideEdition.com that it "recognizes optimum care depends on strong relationships between doctors, care teams and patients.
“To that end, our physicians and care teams seek information to help them understand as much as possible about patients, their families, and their lives to treat them holistically. Health care providers everywhere are working to better understand the best way to include information in the most sensitive and respectful way to each patient.
“Like other providers, we are continuously working to improve our process and have work underway to enhance our efforts to appropriately collect patient information in accordance with industry best practices guided by the Human Rights Campaign.
“Sexual orientation is not a clinical diagnosis and we will be working closely with our physicians and providers to ensure that information included in medical records is appropriate, respectful and consistent with our belief in the importance of diversity," the statement read. "We strongly support diversity and inclusion in all our interactions with patients, the public and our teammates, including creating an affirming environment for LGBT patients and their families."
Rodriguez said she had been in contact with the Carolinas HealthCare System administration and would be meeting with its director of diversity on Friday.