Southern California Permanente Medical Group and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals have agreed to resolve allegations that they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide a qualified sign language interpreter or other appropriate form of assistance to a deaf patient, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
Separately, a Riverside County doctor has agreed to settle similar claims involving a deaf patient.
The Kaiser settlement agreement ensures that individuals with disabilities at its West Los Angeles Medical Center receive appropriate auxiliary aids and services necessary for effective communication, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Southern California Permanente Medical Group and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals have agreed to provide equipment and services free of charge to ensure that people who are deaf or hard of hearing have full and equal access to medical appointments, treatments and emergency visits at the West Los Angeles facility.
The complainant alleged he was not provided effective communication on a regular basis during visits to the medical center from 2012 through 2016, according to federal prosecutors.
The entities, which fully cooperated with the government’s investigation, have agreed to:
— provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified interpreters, when necessary to ensure effective communication with patients who are deaf or hard of hearing and their companions;
— advertise the availability of auxiliary aids and services;
— designate a diversity coordinator to ensure access to appropriate auxiliary aids and services necessary for effective communication;
— provide training on auxiliary aids and services, including qualified interpreters, for the diversity coordinator, medical center personnel and telephone operators; and
— pay $17,000 compensation to the complainant and $3,250 in civil penalties to the government.
In a separate case, Dr. Javier Rios, a Lake Elsinore-based physician, agreed to comply with the ADA by providing appropriate auxiliary aids and services free of charge so people who are deaf or hard of hearing have full and equal access to appointments and treatment at his office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
The settlement resolves allegations that Rios, during more than a dozen appointments from 2016 to 2018, failed to provide such services for a patient who is deaf, telling her instead that she or her insurance company should provide them, prosecutors said.
The ADA requires providers, not patients, to ensure effective communication for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Rios fully cooperated with the government’s investigation. prosecutors said.
“Communicating with medical professionals not only is a right under federal law, it also can be a matter of life and death,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna. “My office will take the necessary measures to ensure that health care providers comply with the ADA and provide equal treatment for the deaf and hard of hearing.”
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