Hospital fined for failure to accommodate

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The Justice Department has reached a settlement with a Virginia hospital system that failed to provide sign language interpreters to an expectant mother and others who are deaf or hard of hearing.

A deaf couple sued Virginia’s Inova Health System for $2.3 million in 2010 after the Inova Fairfax Hospital failed to provide a sign language interpreter when their newborn baby was facing serious, life threatening complications, according to an article in the Washington Business Journal. The Department of Justice joined the lawsuit at the end of March, accusing Inova Health System of discriminating against individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Under the settlement, the Inova Health System must pay $95,000 to the couple, a $25,000 civil penalty and $25,000 to another couple for similar allegations.

“Because of the hospital’s failure to provide sign language interpreter services, deaf individuals were denied the benefit of effective communication with hospital staff, the opportunity to effectively participate in medical treatment decisions, and the full benefit of health care services provided by Inova Fairfax Hospital,” according to a Justice Department news release from March 29.