Public Healthcare Providers Should Prepare for Department of Justice Rule on Accessible Medical Diagnostic Equipment for Disabled Persons | Goldberg Segalla

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Key Takeaways:

  • The Department of Justice is proposing to revise the regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, to establish specific requirements for making the services they provide more accessible to the public through Medical Diagnostic Equipment

  • Public entities have until February 12, 2024 to comment on the proposed rule through the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS)

  • Public entities should immediately take stock of the medical diagnostic equipment they have and whether their levels meet the proposed revisions to the ADA regulations

Studies have shown that persons with disabilities are not being afforded equal access to medical care, including routine examinations, due to a lack of medical diagnostic equipment (MDE). A lack of accessible MDE impacts the quality of care received by individuals with disabilities, leading to delayed and incomplete care, missed diagnoses, and an increased likelihood of the development of secondary conditions. Therefore, the U.S. Department of Justice is proposing a new rule adopting specific standards and requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended, to ensure that MDE used by public entities at hospitals, physician offices, and other health care facilities is accessible to individuals with disabilities.

MDE includes radiologic diagnostic equipment for mammograms, medical examination tables, wheelchair-accessible weight scales, dental chairs, and eye-examination equipment. Part of the proposed rule is the scope of additional accessible medical equipment being required, i.e., the number of additional pieces of equipment.

Public entities have until February 12, 2024 to comment on the new proposed requirements. The Department of Justice is seeking public comment on several issues, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • The burden that the proposed scoping requirement might impose on public entities;
  • Whether different scoping requirements should apply to different types of MDE (e.g., requiring a higher percentage of accessible exam tables and scales than accessible x-ray machines);
  • The extent to which accessible MDE can be shared between clinics or departments;
  • How much time shall pass before the new requirements go into effect.

Recommendations:

Public entities should immediately take stock of the medical diagnostic equipment they have and whether their levels meet the proposed revisions to the ADA regulations. If not, they need to assess the cost of the additional equipment, and timeframe by which they can purchase the additional equipment. Lastly, they should respond to the questions posed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

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