News and Press Releases

Dominion Hospital Agrees To Settle Claim That It Failed To Provide Effective Communication Services To Deaf Individuals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 4, 2013

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The United States Attorney’s Office announced today a $55,000 settlement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Dominion Hospital, which is located in Falls Church, Virginia and is part of the HCA Virginia Health System, to ensure effective communication with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing in the provision of medical services.

            The United States Attorney’s investigation commenced with a complaint from the public and alleged that Dominion Hospital violated the ADA by failing to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreter services, to deaf individuals who were family members of a patient being treated at Dominion Hospital during critical junctures, including:  (1) the admission of the patient to the hospital; (2)  during visiting hours when family members needed to discuss important and complex topics related to symptoms and treatment; and (3) at a family meeting.  The complainants alleged that because of the hospital’s failure to provide sign language interpreter services, deaf individuals were denied the benefit of effective communication with hospital clinical staff and the opportunity to effectively participate in treatment decisions.

“This settlement exemplifies the United States Attorney’s Office’s commitment to protect the rights of those who are deaf or hard of hearing and to ensure that they are able to communicate with health care professionals, especially at critical moments in the medical care of family members,” said United States Attorney Neil MacBride. 

            The settlement agreement requires that Dominion Hospital pay $55,000 to the aggrieved individuals; provide training to hospital staff on the requirements of the ADA; and adopt specific policies and procedures to ensure that auxiliary aids and services are promptly provided to patients and companions who are deaf or hard of hearing.

            This matter was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Steven Gordon, who coordinates the United States Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Initiative.

This case is a part of the Department of Justice’s Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, which seeks to enforce the ADA’s prohibition of discrimination against disabled individuals by health care providers, including hospitals.  Through the Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, U.S. Attorneys' offices across the nation and the Department's Civil Rights Division target their enforcement efforts on a critical area for individuals with disabilities – access to medical services and facilities. The Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative is a multi-phase initiative that includes effective communication for people who are deaf or have hearing loss, physical access to medical care for people with mobility disabilities, and equal access to treatment for people who have HIV/AIDS.

            The Department of Justice has a number of publications available to assist entities to comply with the ADA, including a Business Brief on Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Hospital Settings, www.ada.gov/hospcombr.htm.  For more information on the ADA and to access these publications, visit www.ada.gov or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD.  ADA complaints may be filed by email to ada.complaint@usdoj.gov.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.

 

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