Providing Adequate Medical Care to Deaf Patients in Maryland

When we go to the doctor for a health issue, we are typically able to communicate without any problems. For deaf patients, the reality can be very different. A simple conversation can become very difficult if effective communication options are not provided to the patient. In cases in which the medical issue is more complex, the necessity of effective communication becomes even more important to ensure that the deaf patient can understand the explanations provided by the physician and can also ask questions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hearing loss can take place when any part of the ear is not working in the usual way. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that approximately 15 percent of American adults aged 18 and over report some trouble with hearing loss. NIDCD also reports that about two percent of adults between the ages of 45 and 54 have disabling hearing loss. This number increases to nearly 25 percent in individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent in individuals who are 75 years of age and older. Census estimates compiled by the Gallaudet Research Institute reveal that an estimated 55,000 Marylanders between 18 and 64 have a hearing disability.

While federal disability law, namely the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), requires hospitals to provide translations for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, many say it isn’t enough. Often, the translator is ineffective or does not stay for the entire visit. To address the problem, the United States Department of Justice launched the barrier-free health care initiative in 2012 and has filed many lawsuits against physicians, hospitals, and medical facilities for not accommodating the hard of hearing, although none of the cases has been in Maryland.

Under Maryland law, medical malpractice takes place when a medical professional fails to adhere to a certain standard of care that a reasonably prudent medical professional would have met in the same or similar circumstances. Additionally, the medical professional’s actions or omissions must be a direct cause of the patient’s harm. It can be helpful to think of medical malpractice as medical negligence. These cases are highly fact-intensive and must be carefully investigated.

Once medical malpractice is demonstrated, the plaintiff may be able to recover damages, including but not limited to current and future medical bills, lost income and benefits, disability, and rehabilitation costs, as well as pain and suffering. Of course, the exact amount of damages will vary based on the specific facts of the case.

As with any other claim, a medical malpractice case must be filed within a certain time frame, known as the statute of limitations. A failure to file within the appropriate time limit could mean losing your legal right to compensation altogether.

At Arfaa Law Group, our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys will take the time to closely examine the facts of your case and determine the strength of your claim. Our team has extensive experience representing victims who have been injured by the negligent actions of others. You can rest assured that we will provide you with competent and compassionate legal guidance at every step of the way. We proudly represent clients from across Maryland. To learn more, feel free to call 410-889-1850 or contact us online.

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