Baystate Medical Center Study Finds Doctor Accessibility Limited for Disabled
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Nancy Bazanchuck knows firsthand how difficult it can be to find proper medical care. “It’s really frustrating sometimes when doctors’ offices just aren’t able to care for patients in the same manner that they should be able to anybody else who stands up and moves around,” she said.
In fact, a new study by Baystate Medical Center echoes her experience.
Dr. Tara Lagu led a team of researchers who called 256 doctors’ offices in Boston, Georgia Texas, and Oregon. They created a hypothetical wheelchair-bound patient who needed a specialist, like a gynecologist or urologist. “What we found was that 22%, 56 docs said they were unable to make an appointment for the patient. What’s interesting about this is that 9 of the docs, 4% had problems with the building. The rest of the time, 47% they were unable to transfer her from the wheelchair to an exam table,” Dr. Lagu stated.
Dr. Lagu notes it can also be dangerous for doctors not to have the right equipment. For instance, a high adjustable table can help when transferring a patient out of their wheelchair.
If doctors don’t have that equipment, they could be breaking the law. “The doctors who said our building was inaccessible or were not able to transfer the patient, those docs are most likely violating the American Disabilities Act in the case that a real life person called them and needed an appointment, and they couldn’t see them,” she said.
Nancy thinks that because of this, people need to demand a change. “Insurance companies should be requiring or requesting that medical providers offer accessible equipment in their offices.” A change is coming. Dr. Lagu says the Affordable Care act has a clause that will create a committee who will make regulations on how doctors can better comply with the American Disabilities Act.
Those recommendations should be out this spring.
Currently, only 9% of doctors in the survey reported already using high adjustable tables.