Admit it, going to the doctor can be a drag and annoying experience. It involves a lot of waiting, talking about personal subjects, being told to do more or one thing less of another, and etc. Now imagine getting into the office is physically hard, or the examination room is too small for you turn around in. Even worse, the doctor’s equipment does not work because you can not access it easily. This is what people with disabilities have to deal with at times when they go to the doctor. Even though much of todays society has become much more keen to disability awareness and accessibility, there are important places, such as a doctors office, that are essential yet still not accessible in terms of ADA accomodations, though legally they are required to be.
The first rule of thumb for doctors’ offices is how big the actual examination needs to physically able to have a clear space on the floor of at lest 30”x 48”. The examination table needs to be adjustable and there needs to be space for the patient to do a side transfer on to the table. There need to be space between the table and wall need to be adequate enough for the staff to assist a patient, all routes through public spaces need to be accessible, and the door way has to be at least 32” to enable a wheelchair to go through. There also is a need for accessible equipment that can be adjustable for a person in a wheel chair such as mammogram machines and x-ray machines. In addition, all bathrooms gurneys, and grab bars need to be made available to a person in a wheelchair or who need them.
The ADA states “Reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to make health care services fully available to individuals with disabilities, unless the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of services( i.e. alter the essential nature of the services.)” http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/disability/adamobilityimpairmentsgudiance.pdfdividuals with disabilities…” This means that all people are eligible and have the civil rights to a good doctor. A medical service can not deny anyone their services on the basics of disability. An attendant comes to help a patient at an appointment if he needs it, but patients are not required to bring their own attendants. If an attendant is provided, they help the patient un dress and dress. but usually they are supposed to go into the waiting room during the actual examination time.
The patient with disabilities is completely able to make decisions for themselves. The doctor should directly address the patients and not their attendants when talking to them. A doctor can not make a patient with a disability to wait longer than a person without. There needs to be an adequate amount of room that are wheelchair accessible, just like any business needs to have an adequate amount of disabled parking places.
This information and stories on personal experiences and tips were shared at Lauren Steinberg’s Rights in a Bag workshop on patients' right in the medical world. People were able to get information on what their rights were and learned ideas for doctors that are not as commonly known as they should be. In the workshop, it was also discussed that doctors should have a protocol as to the rights of disabled patients and what they need to do to accommodate them. It is a growing phenomenon that doctors need to learn more about disability. Luckily for some people, the respect that people with disabilities in doctor’s offices have become better in recent times.