By Bill Kray
Protocols for treating disabled patients.
Let's face it; medical offices are for sick and disabled people. It is unethical and illegal to just cater to the healthy and able-bodied. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) has specific requirements for patients governing everything from accessibility to wait times. Non-comprehensive highlights are provided from the freely accessible guide linked below.
Wheelchair access: Examining a patient in their wheelchair is usually less thorough than on the exam table, and does not provide the patient equal medical services. There are several ways to make the exam table accessible to a person using a wheelchair. A good option is to have a table that adjusts down to the level of a wheelchair, approximately 17-19 inches from the floor.
You cannot deny service to a patient whom you would otherwise serve because she has a disability. You must examine the patient as you would any patient. In order to do so, you may need to provide an accessible exam table, an accessible stretcher or gurney, a patient lift, or have enough trained staff available who can assist the patient to transfer.
Require Caregiver: If a patient chooses to bring along a friend or family member to the appointment, they may. However, a patient with a disability, just like other individuals, may come to an appointment alone, and the provider must provide reasonable assistance to enable the individual to receive the medical care.
Examination Delay: Generally, a patient with a disability should not wait longer than other patients in order to have access to a particular exam table. If the patient with a disability has made an appointment in advance, the staff should reserve the room with the accessible exam table for that patient’s appointment. The receptionist should ask each individual who calls to make an appointment if the individual will need any assistance during the examination because of a disability.
Staff should be protected from injury, but that doesn’t justify refusing to provide equal medical services to individuals with disabilities. The medical provider can protect his or her staff from injury by providing accessible equipment, such as an adjustable exam table and/or a ceiling or floor based patient lift, and training on proper patient handling techniques as necessary to provide equal medical services to a patient with a disability.
Top Excuses For No New Anatomy Posters
Did you notice that the U.S. Department of health and Human Services included an anatomy poster in its diagram of an ADA compliant exam room? When asked why anatomy posters are absent from exam rooms, some medical offices offer quite creative excuses. Tweet your favorite response with hashtag #whynoanatomyposter.
- Wall space is limited.
- Only corporate branded posters allowed.
- Posters are too expensive.
- Prefer fine art.
- Computers are used.
- We have an anatomy poster.
1) A solution to limited wall space is to purchase a frame filled with several interchangeable posters. 2) Custom corporate posters cost thousands of dollars for design and printing. By comparison, industry standard poster cost is negligible. 3) A typical unframed poster costs less than $25 but earns hundreds of dollars in billable fees in a clinical setting. 4) Fine art has its place — perhaps in reception rooms or private offices. But patients visit exam rooms for medical solutions not art history. 5) To comply with HIPAA requirements, computer access is limited. Patients can view anatomy posters before and after the doctor enters the exam room to better comprehend advise. 6) If the appropriate anatomy poster is not visible or inaccessible during a patient consult, it is likely located in the wrong location.
Unprotected paper anatomy posters are unsanitary. Trash them and order laminated and framed ones that can be cleaned today. And hang the new ones at an appropriate height for those seated in wheelchairs.