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Hospitals should be barrier free.

Better communication with doctors
Better communication with doctors
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A hospital is a scary place for most of us now add in a disability and it can become a very hostile environment. All public hospitals are covered by Title II of the ADA. There are statues requiring all medical care providers to make their services available in an accessible manner. It is important you know your rights.

Being blind or deaf should not be a barrier to get proper medical care. It doesn't make a difference if you are in the ER, ICU or Waiting room you are entitled to proper communication with hospital staff. According to the ADA all public hospitals need to have in place an interpreter, auxiliary aids such as TTY's and closed caption television. It is not acceptable for your doctor to talk to a family member without talking to you first. A family member may have language barriers or unable to relay the information to the patient correctly. Hospital staff needs to allocate extra time with the patient to assure they understand the information presented to them.

If you have mobility issues the ADA ensures you that your disability will not effect you in receiving proper medical care. All public hospitals must provide an adjustable height bed so one can easily transfer from a bed to wheelchair safely. All testing equipment including mammogram equipment needs to be accessible. If the machine can not be lowered or raised for a patient to safely get on then a patient lift should be available.

All patients with mobility issues should have access to physical therapy and or occupational therapy. If your mobility impedes your ability to drink, eat or dress yourself then the hospital staff is required to accommodate you. All hospitals have to have a certain number of accessible rooms with bathrooms and ceiling lifts or patient lifts as needed. Make sure you request one of these rooms if needed.

Patients with a disability should have unrestricted visiting hours for family as well as patient support persons to further help the patient. Many hospitals have a "hospital sitter" service. These are trained hospital staff personnel who will sit with you to insure companionship, safety and help with non medical issues like help with feeding or changing the television channel. The hospital sitter does not perform any medical tasks. Most of the time this is a self paid service, however, if the service is mandatory to keep a person from falling out of a bed or other safety concerns you can get a doctor to prescribe a hospital sitter for you.

If you find yourself in a hospital carefully access your situation. Make sure that you receive everything you are entitled to in order to have a safe and expedited recovery. Remember that you need to be your own advocate in this fast pace environment.

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