January 31, 2024
Source: Justice Department
The Justice Department announced today that it filed a complaint and proposed consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to resolve allegations that MedStar Health Inc., a leading health care provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying people with disabilities equal access to medical care by excluding their necessary support persons.
“For some people with disabilities, having a family member, aide or other support person by their side is critical to ensure they have the same access to health care as everyone else,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “When health care providers impose visitor restrictions that do not appropriately account for the needs of people with disabilities, they may run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Justice Department is committed to safeguarding the civil rights of people with disabilities, including ensuring equal access to medical care.”
“Patients are entitled to equal access to health care,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland. “We appreciate Medstar Health’s cooperation in this investigation and are pleased that Medstar Health has agreed to take comprehensive steps to ensure that patients with disabilities have the same opportunities to obtain medical care and services.”
Some individuals with dementia, intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities may require the assistance of a support person (such as a family member, companion or aide) to provide their medical history or understand medical directions when accessing medical care. The complaint alleges that MedStar Health failed on numerous occasions to modify its visitor restrictions so that people with certain disabilities which affected their ability to independently access medical care could be accompanied by their support persons. As a result, they were unable to receive equal care without the assistance of their support person.
Under the proposed consent decree, which the court must approve, MedStar Health has agreed to pay a total of $440,000 to compensate multiple eligible affected individuals. MedStar Health will also revise its policies to ensure ADA compliance, train its workforce on the new policies and report to the department on any future exclusion of support persons, as defined in the decree.
This matter was handled jointly by the department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. Title III of the ADA requires private hospitals and other health care providers to provide individuals with disabilities with full and equal enjoyment of their goods and services.
For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit justice.gov/crt. For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TTY 1-833-610-1264) or visit ada.gov. If you believe you’ve been discriminated against, you may file a complaint online at civilrights.justice.gov. Anyone in the District of Maryland may also report civil rights violations by emailing USAMD.Civilrightscomplaint@usdoj.gov.