Methodist University Hospital paid $8,000 in damages to a deaf woman who alleged the hospital refused to get an interpreter for her during a recent nine-hour visit to the emergency room.
A federal investigation into the woman's claim found that she initially wrote notes to hospital staff to explain why she was there. Emergency room personnel failed to request an interpreter.
Staffers thought the patient had left the ER when she did not respond to her name being called over the intercom, according to Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.
"Even after this mistake was discovered, an interpreter never arrived at the hospital to assist the patient," read a statement from Stanton's office. "In all, the patient spent nine hours in the Methodist University ER."
The hospital paid the money in damages to settle with the patient. Also, the hospital also said it would improve its procedures for identifying and tracking the needs of hearing impaired patients and its procedures for using interpreters.
"Protecting citizens by ensuring full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act remains a priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Stanton. “We appreciate the cooperation of Methodist Healthcare in quickly resolving this matter and recognizing the importance of communicating effectively with its hearing impaired patients.”