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Des Moines hospital settles 2 lawsuits over availability of deaf services

DesMoinesRegister.com, September 28, 2011

J. William Fullbright, 40, of Clive was suffering an inexplicable shortness of breath when his wife rushed him to Mercy Medical Center’s emergency room on a Sunday night in 2008. He and his wife both were deaf, but the hospital did not have a sign-language interpreter available to help them communicate with doctors and nurses, Polly Fullbright said. The staff kept saying they were trying to find an interpreter, but none arrived by the time William Fullbright died five hours after arriving at the hospital. The hospital agreed last week to settle a lawsuit brought by Fullbright and a similar one brought by the family of a second deaf patient.