ProAssurance Risk Resource professionals publish a Medical Risk Resource Advisor newsletter twice annually. We mailed the Barriers to Effective Communications issue to ProAssurance insured physicians today, November 21.
"The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) strictly prohibits any discrimination against individuals who are hard of hearing in places of public accommodation. Under Title III of the Act, a physician’s office is defined as a place of public accommodation.1 As such, it is required to make reasonable accommodations for hard of hearing patients. Because the standard is reasonable accommodation, there is not a bright-line rule which states what each practice must do for each patient. Appropriate accommodations will vary based on the circumstances of each patient’s case and his or her needs. For example, one patient may want to write notes to facilitate communication with the provider while another may require a qualified sign-language interpreter for every visit.
Discuss communication preferences with hard of hearing patients in advance. Their options can include: a qualified interpreter on site, note taking, computer-aided transcription services, or devices such as telephone handset amplifiers and Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDDs). If you have a large number of hard of hearing patients it may be effective to hire an interpreter. Then set aside a block of time when the interpreter will be present to accommodate these patients."