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Proposed Rules for Accommodating Disabled Patients in Healthcare Settings

Last Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed new rules that would require healthcare providers to make accommodations for disabled patients. The stated goal of these rules is to ensure equal access to healthcare facilities and services for individuals with disabilities.

The proposed rules cover various areas, including access to physical facilities, patient communications, medical equipment, and triage protocols. If these rules are enacted, healthcare providers who participate in HHS programs or do business with HHS would need to comply with the new requirements. Compliance could include renovations to facilities and alterations to medical equipment (i.e., mammogram machines for those in a wheelchair).

It is important to note that these proposed rules are still subject to public comment and may be revised before becoming final. However, the proposed rules could have significant cost implications for your organization depending on the number of accommodations needed to be made. This is definitely a proposed regulation to monitor.

Significantly, providers would need to modify medical equipment to accommodate patients with disabilities and revise biases found in clinical support tools. For example, Items such as examination tables and mammography machines would have to be adaptable for use by patients in wheelchairs.


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