Hospital Not Liable for Disability Discrimination against Deaf Patient for Not Offering Onsite Interpreter for 6 Days

July 13, 2022 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​After being treated in a hospital for a gunshot wound, a patient sued a hospital in Louisiana for disability discrimination for failing to provide an onsite interpreter for six days when the hospital staff knew the patient was deaf and "virtually illiterate." The patient claimed the hospital violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (RA), 29 U.S.C. § 794; Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12182; Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), 42 U.S.C. § 18116; and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights, La. Rev. Stat. § 51:2231. Ultimately, only the RA and ACA claims remained. The trial court, not finding intentional disability discrimination and noting sufficient accommodation for the patient's disability, granted the defendant hospital's Motion for Summary Judgement, thereby dismissing the remaining claims. The patient appealed.

The patient was hospitalized due to a gunshot wound in his back. His grandmother testified during deposition that she told the ambulance crew, the emergency room staff, and her grandson's doctor that the patient was deaf and needed an interpreter. Surgery was performed on the first day of his hospital stay. On the second day, a care coordinator communicated with the patient via American Sign Language (ASL) to discuss the patient's needs. The care coordinator asked the patient if he needed any additional services, but the patient declined. The care coordinator stated that neither the patient nor...

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