It is estimated that around 15% of the world’s population lives with a disability and requires healthcare services, according to the World Health Organization. Despite health being a critical topic over the past year, there have been cases where people with disabilities have experienced discrimination regarding their health services. In response, telemedicine has enjoyed a boom, and the U.S. government is scrutinizing the events of discrimination.
Denied Care In Oregon Hospital
A woman with an intellectual disability was denied critical care in an Oregon hospital as the attending doctor cited her as having “low quality of life”. She was then left without crucial care for the next two days. The legal director at Disability Rights Oregon (D.R.O.), Emily Cooper, has threatened legal action against the hospital. The woman eventually obtained critical care at another hospital, but Cooper and other disability rights groups remain concerned. There have been more instances where health services were essentially rationed among those with disabilities, and D.R.O. will continue to monitor and address cases as they are found.
Caregivers More Comfortable With Telemedicine
Children with pre-existing conditions like cerebral palsy and/or a growth hormone deficiency are more at risk for respiratory complications and will need to see an endocrinologist, but many have struggled with obtaining necessary health services through traditional means. The past year has accelerated the adoption of telemedicine for children with disabilities. Pediatric physiatrists expressed that in the past year, the use of telehealth services increased from 15% to 97%. The same survey found that 80% of caregivers are now comfortable using telemedicine, and 77% are confident with the quality of services provided. With more clinics offering telemedicine services, it also helps limit the occurrence of discrimination.
HHS’s Office Of Civil Rights Issues Request For Information
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (H.H.S.) Office For Civil Rights will be issuing a request for more information regarding disability discrimination within child welfare and healthcare systems. This comes after the agency was made aware of the significant disability discrimination occurrence as reported by researchers, advocates, and several disability rights organizations. The H.H.S. has also announced that they want the input of people with disabilities and their families to obtain a stronger picture of the sort of discrimination they face so that they may address them appropriately.
The occurrence of discrimination against people with disabilities has no place in modern society. It is a relief that technology is providing a better way for those in need to obtain health services that can help improve their quality of living. The findings of the H.H.S. will hopefully be critical in helping curb any future occurrence of discrimination in hospitals and clinics.