By Joce Sterman
February 9, 2015
Federal settlement records show the DOJ has pursued civil cases against more than a dozen medical facilities across the country under the department’s Barrier-Free Health Initiative, which was launched in 2012. Those cases include hospitals, doctors’ offices and clinics in the D.C. area. (See a complete, interactive list at the bottom of this article.)
“We were continuing to see a lot of medical care providers refusing to provide sign language interpreters or communicate effectively with their patients or their prospective patients,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Eve Hill, who works in the Civil Rights Division.
Court records show that in the deaf and hard of hearing discrimination cases, patients weren’t always given access to auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreters. The 20 settlements obtained by ABC7 show the medical facilities had to take corrective actions to ensure access to effective communication, as well as compensation for patients who claimed harm.