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Justice Department Releases ADA Settlement Agreement with Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta
February 8, 2016
Source: U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
The U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Georgia has reached a settlement agreement with Grady Memorial Hospital (Grady), the largest hospital in the State of Georgia and located in Atlanta, Georgia, to resolve an investigation into allegations that it violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to ensure effective communication with individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.
“When a deaf patient or caregiver is unable to understand what is happening during a medical visit or procedure, it can be a terrifying experience and adversely affect the quality of care,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. I am encouraged that Grady has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to ensure that people who are deaf or hard of hearing have equal access to quality medical care.”
The U.S. Attorneys Office initiated an investigation after receiving a complaint alleging that Grady failed to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services when necessary to ensure effective communication. The complainant, who is deaf and relies on American Sign Language as his primary means of communication, was treated in the Emergency Care Center at Grady after falling from a ladder. The complainant alleged that he was in a lot of pain during his six hour stay in the Emergency Care Center. Complainant did not understand most of what was being communicated because he was not provided a sign language interpreter or other auxiliary aid or service.
Under the settlement agreement, Grady has agreed to ensure effective communication to patients who are deaf and hard of hearing. Among other things, Grady has agreed to provide mandatory in-service training to all its Emergency Care Center personnel and provide reports to the U.S. Attorneys Office regarding its compliance with the settlement agreement. The training will address the needs of deaf and hard of hearing patients and companions. Grady also agreed to pay $5,000 to the complainant.
The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by health care professionals. Under the ADA, health care providers are required to provide effective communication to individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. When complex, lengthy communication is involved, the ADA generally requires health care professionals to provide qualified sign language interpreters for the person who is deaf or hard of hearing.
This agreement is part of the Department of Justices Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, which is a partnership between the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorneys offices across the nation designed to target enforcement efforts on a critical area for individuals with disabilities. The initiative, launched on the 22nd anniversary of the ADA in July 2012, includes the participation of more than 40 U.S. Attorneys offices, including the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Georgia. Information about the initiative can be found at www.ada.gov/usao-agreements.htm.
Assistant United States Attorney Aileen Bell Hughes and Assistant United States Attorney Neeli Ben-David are representing the United States in this matter.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorneys Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.
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