Disability Discrimination: Hospital Settles Violation regarding Service Animal

April 1, 2012 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in response to a complaint brought by an individual with a spinal disability, an Arkansas hospital agreed to change its policies and procedures to settle a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The law prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities with regard to access, benefits, and employment. Section 504 applies to organizations that receive federal assistance, in this case, federal financial assistance through participation in Medicaid.

OCR found that the hospital refused to allow the complainant's service animal to accompany him into the hospital when he was seeking emergency care for his father. The hospital told the complainant that because his service animal was not a "seeing-eye dog," he must...

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