Health Care Overview
What with Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act, nearly all health care providers must follow many rules in order to avoid discriminating against patients with disabilities. One exception is certain health care providers that are run by religious organizations, though for those providers, with local and state regulations, and federally funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid, it is likely that they have quite a few rules to follow.
What these rules do, however, is provide concrete steps that health care providers can take to ensure that all people can benefit from the services they provide. These rules outline what’s necessary so people with disabilities can enter medical facilities and use the features within them. They also cover what’s needed for people with disabilities to receive appropriate medical care just like all other patients, and they cover using auxiliary aids (like large-print instructions or sign language interpreters) so people with disabilities can communicate effectively about their own health care and any related decisions.
A few things that health care providers should be aware of in relation to disability are these:
- The federal government does offer a few tax breaks that can help with the expense of removing barriers and providing auxiliary aids or services.
- Good communication with a patient with a disability is important. Health care providers should remember to treat all adult patients as adults, to use person-first language unless asked to do otherwise (i.e. “a woman who is in a wheelchair”), and to not make assumptions about what a person can and cannot do.
- If a medical provider, such as a nurse, thinks a patient may need help, the nurse should ask first and follow the patient’s lead.
- Patients may approach health care providers for assistance with documenting a disability. This may come up in the context of their employment, housing, or education.