Many Healthcare Facilities Lag in Compliance With ADA

Airports that make it excessively difficult for travelers with disabilities are bad enough. We discussed that problem in last week’s post. This week, we’ll look at a problem that in many ways is even worse: doctors’ officers that aren’t equipped for patients with disabilities.

In Michigan and across the country, people with special needs have benefited from the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). But even today, more than twenty years after ADA took effect, there are many public facilities that are not as accessible as they should be. One of those, rather surprisingly, is doctors’ offices.

The ADA law requires “full and equal access” for disabled people to “health care services and facilities.” And yet a recent study by researchers found that more than 1 of every 5 hospitals indicated they would be unable to accommodate a patient who needed assistance in transfer from a wheel chair. The research was published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The research was done by phone using a “secret shopper” format. Healthcare facilities in several major metropolitan areas were contacted by phone, asking whether they could serve a patient who could not transfer to an exam table from a wheelchair without help.

Health insurance and medical costs are very much of concern to patients who rely on Social Security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income. We discussed those issues for Michigan patients in our February 22 post. But regardless of the source of payment, it is surprising that so many healthcare facilities would be so unwilling to accommodate a patient with disabilities. Especially when the ADA creates obligations to do so.

Source: “Doctors Turning Away Patients With Disabilities,” disability scoop, Michelle Diament, 3-19-13

To learn more about our practice, please visit our page on main page on Social Security disability.