BOX 6-2

Highlights of ADA Settlement Involving Washington Hospital Center (U.S. Department of Justice Complaint Number 202-16-120)


Among the problems cited by plaintiffs were “not being placed in an accessible inpatient room; being examined on inaccessible equipment which required them to be lifted onto an examination table; having such lifting performed in an improper manner; having to wait significantly longer than other patients for an outpatient exam because the examination room with an accessible table was occupied; not receiving adequate inpatient services required as a result of a disability, such as assistance with eating, drinking, and having bowel movements; and [a lack of timely receipt of] accessible equipment needed as an inpatient, such as an accessible call button and telephone.”

Selected Elements of Hospital Responsibilities Under the Settlement

  • Adopt goal of making 10 percent of inpatient rooms (other than those in the intensive care unit) meet ADA accessibility standards (including having an accessible toilet room); 35 of 600 rooms to be made accessible within 5 years

  • Purchase adjustable-height beds for the accessible inpatient rooms

  • Hold the accessible rooms for patients with disabilities, unless hospital is operating at full capacity

  • Provide each department with at least one accessible examination table

  • Survey all equipment and purchase equipment needed for accessibility (e.g., examination tables and chairs, lifts, wheelchair-accessible weight scales, and radiology equipment)

  • Survey public areas to identify barriers to access and then remove those barriers

  • Review and, if necessary, revise hospital policies related to accessibility (e.g., communications methods for individuals with vision and hearing impairments or cognitive limitations, lifting techniques, service animals, and shuttle bus accessibility)

  • Post information in reception and common areas on ADA rights and remedies for hospital patients and prepare a brochure on ADA for inpatients and outpatients

  • Provide training on equal access for all employees who assist patients, including doctors, nurses, receptionists, orderlies, and admissions staff

  • Establish an advisory group of people with disabilities and appoint consultants to assist with facility and policy reviews, policy development, and training

  • Appoint an ADA equipment expert

  • Appoint an ADA officer and establish a formal, timely complaint process

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice (2005e).

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