FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2010
Contact: HHS Press Office
Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania to Ensure Effective Communication with Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Patients
HHS’ Office for Civil Rights and Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania Sign Settlement Agreement
Patients who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, who seek treatment at the Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania (OIP), will receive qualified interpreters when needed for effective communication as required by federal law under a Settlement Agreement reached with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
An HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) investigation of a discrimination complaint filed by a deaf individual found that he was denied a necessary sign language interpreter when he called to schedule a medical appointment, in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Under Section 504, recipients of HHS funding, like OIP, must provide auxiliary aids and services, including qualified interpreters, to qualified persons with disabilities, when necessary to provide an equal opportunity to benefit from their services.
The Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania is an orthopedic surgical practice, with 127 staff in six offices. As a result of the Agreement with OCR, when someone who is deaf or hard-of-hearing requests an interpreter, OIP staff will consult with the person to determine an appropriate auxiliary aid and provide an interpreter free of charge when necessary to ensure effective communication. A copy of the Settlement Agreement and OCR’s Letter of Findings can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/activities/agreements/index.html.
For more information about OCR’s civil rights enforcement activities see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/specialtopics/hospitalcommunication/index.html
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Last revised: May 7, 2011