Beaumont Health, an eight-hospital health system based in Southfield, Mich., has reached an agreement with the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit to settle allegations that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act related to providing communication for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The complaint alleged that William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., failed to provide sign language interpreters to deaf patients despite repeated requests for help with medical appointments and procedures, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement.
Because of the hospital's failure to provide sign language interpreter services, people with hearing disabilities were denied the benefit of effective communication with hospital staff, the opportunity to effectively participate in medical treatment decisions and the full benefit of health care services provided by the hospital, Schneider said.
"The ADA protects the right of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to be able to access medical services, and this agreement is the latest example of our office's unwavering commitment to enforcing the ADA," said Schneider, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
"This settlement enables Beaumont and the federal government to achieve their common goal to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing patients can communicate with their doctors and obtain equal access to medical treatment, especially at critical moments in their care."
Schneider said Beaumont worked cooperatively with the U.S. Attorney's Office throughout the investigation.
In a statement, Beaumont Health said it is committed to providing equal access to health care services for all patients and families, including those who are deaf or have hearing impairments. It also has taken steps to improve its ADA policies.
"We fully cooperated with the government during its investigation and are unaware of any findings of violations of the law by a Beaumont entity," Beaumont said.
The settlement requires Beaumont to provide training for staff on the requirements of the ADA at its three legacy hospitals in Royal Oak, Troy and Grosse Pointe and 31 affiliated health care facilities. Beaumont also must adopt specific policies and procedures to ensure that auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreters, are promptly provided to patients or companions who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. It also requires doctors, hospitals and other health care providers to provide equal access to patients and companions who are deaf or hard of hearing.
This article was originally published in Crain's Detroit Business.