Medical Center Agrees to Settle ADA Claim with Individual Who Is Deaf
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced a $121,000 settlement agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center (SRMC), a wholly-owned, indirect subsidiary of HCA Holdings, Inc. located in Fredericksburg, in a case in which the hospital failed to furnish sign language interpreter services to an individual who is deaf during the provision of medical services to her and her mother.
The U.S. Attorney’s investigation began with a complaint from the public alleging that during nine hospitalizations, including one involving end of life events, SRMC failed to furnish sign language interpreter services for numerous consequential and complex interactions with the daughter of a gravely ill woman who was hospitalized at SRMC and, at times, relied upon family members and friends to facilitate communication. Additionally, the same individual alleges that she made three visits to SRMC’s Emergency Department as a patient and during those visits, SRMC failed to furnish her with a sign language interpreter. As a result, the deaf individual alleges that she often did not understand the care and medical decisions being considered for her mother’s or her own care.
“This case demonstrates this office’s unwavering commitment to protecting the rights of those who are deaf or hard of hearing and ensuring that they are able to communicate with health care professionals, especially when patients and their companions have critical interactions with medical providers,” said U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente.
Under the settlement, SRMC will pay a total of $121,000.00 to the aggrieved individuals, including to the individual who is deaf and to her family members and friends for associational discrimination. The settlement agreement also requires SRMC to take remedial steps to bring itself into compliance with the ADA, including the appointment of an ADA Administrator who is familiar with the ADA’s requirements; providing ADA training to its staff; entering into contracts with sign language interpreting service providers; and adopting specific policies and procedures to ensure that auxiliary aids and services are provided promptly to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Gordon, who is the Civil Rights Enforcement Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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 in complying with the ADA, including a Business Brief on Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Hospital Settings. For more information on the ADA and to access these publications, visit http://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 email@example.com.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.