Asked about citizenship during triage

  1. A friend went to the ER, and while being triaged he was asked if he was a US citizen ( this was in the USA of course). Is this customary? I never recalled being asked when I was a patient, nor do I recall asking when I was a nurse. Is this the new normal?
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  2. 59 Comments

  3. by   dishes
    Your friend could send an email to the patient relations officer describing their experience with the triage staff asking questions regarding their citizenship status and ask if this line of questioning is hospital policy, if so what is the reason? If your friend felt concerned that they could treated differently based on how they answered the question, they should let patient relations know that as well.
  4. by   inshallamiami
    Thanks, he just told the truth, which is that he was a US citizen. I'm not asking what to do now, (Patient relations? Puhlease) I'm just curious if this is done a lot? Is this common now in the US?
  5. by   TriciaJ
    Quote from inshallamiami
    Thanks, he just told the truth, which is that he was a US citizen. I'm not asking what to do now, (Patient relations? Puhlease) I'm just curious if this is done a lot? Is this common now in the US?
    The hospital might be keeping their own demographic stats to make sure they're providing "culturally competent" care.
  6. by   MunoRN
    Hospitals are required by federal law to provide emergency and acute treatment to everyone, regardless of immigration status, so as a result they reimburse hospitals for these services based on how many patients they care for that don't qualify for other programs that would cover their costs such as Medicaid. In order for hospitals to determine what portion of their patients are undocumented immigrants they have to ask. Not all hospitals would qualify for these reimbursements, so for those hospitals there is no point in asking. Even when they ask, this information generally isn't apparent to those caring for you.
  7. by   inshallamiami
    triciaj, you do know that culture and citizenship (legal status) are two separate things. Us citizens have many cultures. They didn't ask if he like grits with breakfast, they asked if he was a US CITIZEN. And MunoRN, I see your point. But wouldn't it be more appropriate to ask about legal status when you are talking about insurance etc.? TO me asking in triage is vaguely threatening like, we may or may not take care of you based on your citizenship. Hell even here in Guatemala they treat first, get money/insurance/citizenship after.
  8. by   MunoRN
    Quote from inshallamiami
    triciaj, you do know that culture and citizenship (legal status) are two separate things. Us citizens have many cultures. They didn't ask if he like grits with breakfast, they asked if he was a US CITIZEN. And MunoRN, I see your point. But wouldn't it be more appropriate to ask about legal status when you are talking about insurance etc.? TO me asking in triage is vaguely threatening like, we may or may not take care of you based on your citizenship. Hell even here in Guatemala they treat first, get money/insurance/citizenship after.
    Triage and admitting often occur simultaneously, and it wouldn't make much sense to intentionally leave part of the admissions process until later unless there's some actual evidence that it's affecting the treatment someone receives. I don't know that the documenting of immigration status during admitting would even have the potential to affect treatment since that information is not readily apparent to anyone caring for the patient.
  9. by   caliotter3
    I accompanied a family member in the ER one time and they were asked payment information while being treated. In the past, that part of admitting was always a separate occurrence, done by separate personnel (not the treating nurse), and in a separate area. Upsetting to say the least. I can see how it could be upsetting to be asked about citizenship when one is concerned with their emergent condition. Stress inducing.
  10. by   inshallamiami
    Well that makes sense, I just don't recall being asked about money, even in triage, but if that's how it's done now I'm not surprised! And so I guess it's customary. Huh. I'm not concerned about the quality of care, I still like to believe that most, nurses care for all people equally. But asking if you are legal when Sick or hurt must be frightening, do they then Contact ICE?
    Last edit by inshallamiami on Sep 30 : Reason: poor grammar, sloppy typing
  11. by   Euro_Sepsis
    We screen everyone for MERS-related travel, usually by asking about travel outside of the United States. Is it possible your friend took something like that the wrong way?
  12. by   inshallamiami
    Uh no. He was ASKED IF HE WAS A UNITED STATES CITIZEN . That s pretty straight forward. Not did he have insurance. Not if he had been abroad. Not if he had any cultural considerations. In triage, by the triage nurse. Not by the person with the clipboard getting all his insurance, but by a triage nurse while he was telling them why is was in the ER. So I found this pretty disconcerting, but I've been retired, and I figure maybe now it's something hospitals do. evidently it is. I find it depressing but I guess nurses in the USA see it as part of the job.
  13. by   Euro_Sepsis
    It's NOT customary which is why plausible alternative explanations have been offered. Are you seriously asking if it's a routine question in triage? OF COURSE IT'S NOT. So either there's more to the story (e.g. strange data tracking as previously mentioned) or your friend encountered a nurse who needs to mind their own business.
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Oct 1
  14. by   TriciaJ
    Quote from Euro_Sepsis
    It's NOT customary which is why plausible alternative explanations have been offered. Are you seriously asking if it's a routine question in triage? OF COURSE IT'S NOT. So either there's more to the story (e.g. strange data tracking as previously mentioned) or your friend encountered a nurse who needs to mind their own business.
    Exactly. It's not a routine question and hospitals don't contact ICE. That hospital was keeping some kind of weird stats, or someone was just asking impertinent questions.
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Oct 1

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