HCFA developing standards for treating deaf patients

The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) is developing standards of care for providing health care services to the deaf and hard of hearing, according to a presentation at the annual conference of the American Public Health Association in March.

David Boan, MD, and colleagues at Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care in Easton, MD, have been working with Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, to draft a set of standards, guidelines, and recommendations.

The standards will state that the provider and/or health care organization should be responsible for ensuring that communication does not create a barrier to the equal access to services, he says. Also, providers should be familiar with interpreters and how to acquire and assess their services, as well as assistive technologies.

Boan also says providers should develop programs for educating deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers should include such topics as how to provide a clear medical history, appropriate use of emergency services and medications, and clear expression of needs.

Hospitals also should have interpreting services available on short notice, as well as accommodations that would include closed-caption TV and clear labeling of patient needs on the patient’s chart, he says.

HCFA’s entire proposal is available on the Internet at deafness.dfmc.org/resources/proposedguidelines.htm