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Office of Civil Rights Ensures Patient Access for Hearing Impaired Patients

Office of Civil Rights Ensures Patient Access for Hearing Impaired Patients

March 01, 2010 In the News

A complaint filed by a deaf patient at the Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania has led to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to ensure that, when necessary, qualified interpreters will be available for deaf patients at no charge.

The patient of the Institute was denied an interpreter, in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This act states that recipients of federal payments from Health and Human Services, such as Medicare and Medicaid, must provide auxiliary aids and services, including qualified interpreters, to qualified persons with disabilities, when necessary, to provide an equal opportunity in benefit from the services provided by that facility. As a result of this violation, a settlement agreement has been reached with the Institute and the HHS. Click here, for further information on the settlement.

In a related situation, the University of Utah Hospital and Clinics will be screening those with hearing, vision, and speech disabilities for auxiliary aids and related services. This resolution agreement was reached after a compliance review identified areas of improvement necessary to ensure that qualified individuals with disabilities receive equal access to the University’s health care system. Not only will this afford patients access to care by way of auxiliary aids and services, staff will undergo extensive training.

For More References, Recommendations, and Information

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Press Release: Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania to Ensure Effective Communication with Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Patients (February 18,2010).

U.S Department of Health and Human Services. Press Release: University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics to Ensure Effective Communication for Persons with Disabilities (January 28, 2010).

Contributed by Deb Abel, AuD, director of reimubrsement, American Academy of Audiology.

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