7 hospital settlements in past year related to hearing
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced recently that, as part of its Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, over the past year it has reached seven settlements with eight healthcare providers from across the United States to ensure that they are providing effective communication to people who are deaf or have hearing disabilities.
These settlements address the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for healthcare providers, such as hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, and doctor's offices, to provide effective communication to people who are deaf or have hearing disabilities in the provision of medical services.
The DOJ's Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative is a partnership of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney's offices across the nation, to target enforcement efforts on a critical area for individuals with disabilities. The initiative, launched on the 22nd anniversary of the ADA in July 2012, includes the participation of more than 40 U.S. Attorney's offices. Six of the seven settlements were obtained by the U.S. Attorney's Offices. The settlement obtained by the department's Civil Rights Division covers two facilities.
The seven settlements from the past year are:
- April 2012 — Richard Noren, MD, Henry Kurzydlowski, MD, and Pain Care Consultants, in the Northern District of Illinois;
- May 2012 — Steven Senica, MD, and Senica Bruneau, in the Northern District of Illinois;
- June 2012 — NorthShore University HealthSystem in the Northern District of Illinois;
- November 2012 — Paul S. Biedenbach, MD, and Northern Ohio Medical Specialists Healthcare in the Northern District of Ohio;
- January 2013 — The Center for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in the Eastern District of Virginia;
- March 2013 — Manassas Health and Rehab Center and Gainesville Health and Rehab Center, both in the Eastern District of Virginia;
- March 2013 — Monadnock Community Hospital in the District of New Hampshire.
"Disability-based discrimination in healthcare is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act and will not be tolerated," said Eve L. Hill, senior counselor to the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, in announcing the settlements. "All types of healthcare providers — from hospitals to nursing homes, from surgeons to general practitioners all across the country — need to provide equal access to people with disabilities, including people who are deaf. More than 20 years after passage of the ADA, the time for compliance is now."
In addition to the department's settlements, in early March 2013 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reached a settlement agreement with Genesis HealthCare, one of the nation's largest providers of senior care with more than 400 facilities, to provide sign language interpreters and other means of effective communication to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.