News & Insights

HHS Office for Civil Rights Issues Bulletin on Civil Rights and Emergency Preparedness

April 09, 2020

HHS Office for Civil Rights Issues Bulletin on Civil Rights and Emergency Preparedness

On March 28, 2020, the HHS/OCR issued this bulletin reminding healthcare providers of their obligations under civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs. The bulletin also contains links to information regarding Emergency Preparedness Resources.

In providing care to these historically marginalized populations, such as deaf and hard of hearing patients, HHS reminds of the following ways healthcare professionals can comply:

  • Providing effective communication with individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, and visually impaired through the use of qualified interpreters, picture boards, and other means;
  • Providing meaningful access to programs and information to individuals with limited English proficiency through the use of qualified interpreters and through other means; 
  • Making emergency messaging available in plain language and in languages prevalent in the affected area(s) and in multiple formats, such as audio, large print, and captioning, and ensuring that websites providing emergency-related information are accessible; 
  • Addressing the needs of individuals with disabilities, including individuals with mobility impairments, individuals who use assistive devices or durable medical equipment, and individuals with immunosuppressed conditions including HIV/AIDS in emergency planning;
  • Respecting requests for religious accommodations in treatment and access to clergy or faith practices as practicable.

HHS points out that some of these accommodations may not be required when they fundamentally alter the nature of a program, pose an undue financial and administrative burden, or pose a direct threat.

In addition to the bulletin the CDC has posted some videos that may be helpful for your deaf and hard of hearing patients that you may be caring for. 

CDC online videos can be accessed here.  Below are several that are in American Sign Language:

LAMMICO also has Member-only resources, sample procedures, communication assessment strategies, VRI vetting guides and more that can help you create or modify your policies and procedures. LAMMICO insureds may access these resources free of charge by logging on as a Member at lammico.com

For more information, please contact the LAMMICO Risk Management and Patient Safety Department at 504.841.5211.

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