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DOJ, HHS Release Guidance for Medical Services Care

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, July 23, 2010

New technical assistance guidelines designed for medical providers—to assist patients with mobility disabilities—were released Thursday by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office for Civil Rights.

Access to Medical Care for Persons with Mobility Disabilities assists medical care providers in understanding how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 apply to them.

This 19-page report includes an overview of general ADA requirements, commonly asked questions, and illustrated examples of accessible facilities, examination rooms, and medical equipment.

"It is critical that all individuals, including those with disabilities, have access to healthcare. But far too often, barriers prevent people with disabilities from visiting a doctor?s office or a clinic," says Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.

"Due to barriers, people with disabilities are less likely to receive even basic medical treatment that will prevent routine small problems from turning into major and possibly life threatening ones," says Georgina C. Verdugo, director of HHS's Office for Civil Rights.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by private hospitals, doctors' offices, clinics and other health care providers. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, prohibits disability-based discrimination by all healthcare providers who receive federal financial assistance.

The new guide includes sections on exam room features and what is needed for individuals with mobility disabilities—including those in wheelchairs—to receive appropriate medical care. This calls for specifying entry door sizes, clearing floors, and specifying turning-room space. It also addresses accessible medical equipment such as exam tables and chairs and free-standing medical lifts. 

For more information about the ADA or to obtain copies of Access to Medical Care for Individuals with Mobility Disabilities, click or call the ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301.

 


Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at jsimmons@healthleadersmedia.com.

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