In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, which prohibited discrimination based on disability. One of the factors under the ADA was that professionals in the medical field can’t discriminate against their patients as well. It is mandatory for doctors to provide “‘full and equal access to their health care services and facilities,’” writes Michelle Diament in an article for Disability Scoop.
However, a new survey reports findings of disability discrimination where doctors are turning away their patients if they find that they won’t be able to accommodate their needs. A reported 22 percent of medical and surgical sub specialists who were randomly selected to participate in the survey stated that they would not be able to help the patient. The survey took place in Boston, Dallas, Houston and Portland, Oregon.
The premise was that the “secret shopper” wanted to make an appointment for a patient, who used a wheelchair and needed help in order to get out of the wheelchair to be checked out on the table. Out of the 256 medical practices that were asked, most doctors had the same reason for not being able to take on the patient: “an inability to transfer the patient from a wheelchair to an exam table.” It is reported that nine practices stated that their buildings were inaccessible.
Some types of doctors were less likely to accommodate a patient that happened to have special needs. Gynecologists were less likely to take on the patient, with a total of 44 of those practice declining the imaginary patient. In, only 4 percent of psychiatrists were deemed inaccessible.