Are medical facilities prepared to meet the needs of disabled individuals? It would seem reasonable to think so, but according to PatientsLikeMe members, that’s not always the case.
For example, consider the case of a female patient using a powered wheelchair who doesn’t have the upper body strength to transfer herself out of the chair. How does she transfer from the wheelchair to an exam table, dentist chair, mammogram booth or even a weight scale in the doctor’s office? Assistance is required, yet according to our members, some medical facilities and doctor’s offices claim they cannot provide assistance due to liability issues (e.g., the risk of being sued by the patient or the risk of a worker’s comp claim due to a staff injury). So what’s the patient to do?
In a discussion in our Multiple Sclerosis Forum, patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) posited that the only immediate solutions appeared to be asking the provider to meet the patient at a nearby hospital (which not all providers will agree to do), changing providers (which is not always easy given insurance networks and geographic location), or switching to home healthcare (which can mean not getting to see your provider in person). None are ideal. In comparison, other patients report that their medical facilities, including Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospitals, offer assistive equipment such as mounted ceiling lifts, slings and HoverMatts to facilitate safe wheelchair transfers.
Should all medical facilities be required to have these types of accommodations? Is it discrimination if they don’t? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.