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Study: Many medical facilitates not accessible to disabled

In order for a disabled person to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, he or she needs to have the condition documented by a doctor or other licensed health care provider. Unfortunately, a new study determined that many doctors' offices are inaccessible to people with special needs, making a diagnosis -- and health care accessibility -- nearly impossible.

The study found that more than 20 percent of doctors' offices were inaccessible to people in a wheelchair who are unable to transfer themselves from their chair to an exam table. This is true despite the fact that the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates doctors to provide "full and equal access to their health care services and facilities."

Researchers used a "secret shopper" style investigation to determine whether 256 randomly-selected medical practices in four large cities were equipped to treat patients who are disabled. The researchers called the medical practices and attempted to set up an appointment for a fictitious patient who needed assistance getting from his wheelchair to the exam table.

What they found was that 22 percent of the medical practice said they could not accommodate the disabled patient. Most of the doctors said that they had no way to transfer the patient from the wheelchair to t he exam table, and nine practices said that their building entrance was not wheelchair accessible.

The researchers concluded that the study should alert doctors and medical facilities that they must be in compliance with the ADA, which went into law more than two decades ago. It's imperative that disabled individuals have access to health care, not only for health purposes, but also so that their conditions can be documented for purposes for disability benefits.

Source: Disability Scoop, "Doctors Turning Away Patients With Disabilities," Michelle Diament, March 19, 2013

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