As business operators, we probably think of our obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) mostly as they relate to employees. However, a recent case in Connecticut serves as a reminder that patient rights also fall under the ADA umbrella. An operator there is learning the consequences of that oversight as we speak. It all started when parents brought their child, who lives with a developmental disability, to the urgent care center for a school physical. The physician tasked with conducting the physical refused because the child’s disability was too “medically complex” for even a basic physical exam to be conducted in an urgent care setting. The parents were outraged and sued, claiming their rights under the ADA had been violated. The court agreed, and now the urgent care operator has to pay a $2,500 fine. They also are required to submit a written nondiscrimination policy to the U.S. Attorney’s office, spelling out its intention to comply with the ADA completely. That policy must then be posted on site; the final piece of the settlement is that the operator will conduct staff training on the policy. Obviously, the case has gotten media attention, too, which clearly could damage the business’s reputation for years to come. Are you clear on what you must do under the ADA, for both your staff’s and your patients’ protection? If not, do your research or ask an attorney to give you a frank assessment.
Know Your Responsibilities to Patients Under the ADA—or Face Bad Press and Fines