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ADA Settlement Agreement for Charlotte Radiology

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND
CHARLOTTE RADIOLOGY, P.A.
DJ# 202-55-148

Recently the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement regarding a dispute over ADA accessibility against Charlotte Radiology under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Charlotte Radiology is a professional corporation with its principal place of business in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Charlotte Radiology operates a medical practice that provides radiology services, including diagnostic imaging such as DXA or DEXA bone density scans, at numerous facilities located in Charlotte, North Carolina and the surrounding area.

The complainant, who has paraplegia and uses a wheelchair, alleges that she was denied full and equal access to the services provided by Charlotte Radiology because of her disability, when she attempted to schedule an appointment to have a DEXA bone density scan of the hip and spine, as ordered by her primary care physician.  Because of her disability, and the height of the equipment used by Charlotte Radiology, the complainant needed either assistance to transfer from her wheelchair to the DEXA machine, or to be scanned in accessible adjustable height equipment.  Complainant alleges that she was told that unless she brought someone to assist in a transfer to the exam table, Charlotte Radiology would not perform the bone density test on the hip and spine because it had a policy that its staff did not transfer patients.  Complainant was subsequently offered a forearm scan, which would not require transfer.  The complainant declined the forearm scan because the complainant alleges it was not medically equivalent to the bone and hip scan and did not meet her medical needs.

The ADA requires a public accommodation to make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford its services to an individual with a disability.  In addition, public accommodations are required to remove architectural barriers to access where it is readily achievable to do so.  According the the DOJ, "accessibility is not only legally required, it is important medically so that minor problems can be detected and treated before turning into major and possibly life-threatening problems."

As a result of this settlement, Charlotte Radiology will pay compensatory damages to the complainant in the amount of $2,500.00.  Other steps that Charlotte Radiology must take include:

1. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, Charlotte Radiology will adopt and incorporate a Non-Discrimination Policy into its existing policies and post it in conspicuous locations in all of its offices, including waiting rooms, patient examination rooms and employee work areas.  Charlotte Radiology will also post and maintain a hyperlink to the Non-Discrimination Policy on the home page of its website.

2. When scheduling an appointment, Charlotte Radiology staff will ask the patient if he or she will need any reasonable modifications at the appointment because of a disability.  Charlotte Radiology shall take steps to be prepared to provide the necessary modification at the patient’s appointment.

3. Within 90 days of the effective date of this Agreement, all Charlotte Radiology medical and administrative staff who interact with patients or prospective patients will attend a training session or sessions on the requirements of Title III of the ADA as they apply to healthcare facilities, including training on interacting with individuals with disabilities, and techniques for safely assisting individuals with mobility disabilities to transfer to imaging equipment or examination tables.  The individuals to be trained may include doctors, technicians, aids, and receptionists.  The trainer(s) shall be approved in advance by the United States.  

4. To ensure that it provides equal access to its services and medical equipment, Charlotte Radiology agrees to provide reasonable modifications to safely assist individuals with mobility disabilities to transfer to imaging equipment or examination tables.  See the diagram below for a representation of this equipment.

AssistTransferFlrLift.jpg

5. Charlotte Radiology further agrees that within 60 days of the effective date of this Agreement, it will purchase or lease two (2) or more patient lifts designed to safely transfer a patient to existing DEXA machines, examination tables or equipment.  See the photo above.

6. Within six (6) months of the effective date of this Agreement, Charlotte Radiology will remove all architectural barriers to access as identified and described in Exhibit 2.  [Exhibit 2 was not provided by the attorney for Charlotte Radiology.]  

7. Charlotte Radiology agrees that all remedies to the facilities will fully comply with the ADA’s accessibility standards, including the 2010 Standards. 

8. Charlotte Radiology further agrees that, with respect to property not controlled by Charlotte Radiology, specifically, exterior, parking or “common areas,” that it will inform its landlord(s) of the architectural barriers identified and described in Exhibit 3.  [Exhibit 3 was not provided by the attorney for Charlotte Radiology.]  

9. Within six (6) months of the effective date of this Agreement, Charlotte Radiology will conduct an assessment and/or inspection of its other facilities to identify and remedy any architectural barriers to access where it is readily achievable to do so. In addition, any future construction or alterations to its facilities shall comply with the ADA, including the 2010 Standards.

SUMMARY:  Charlotte Radiology failed to make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford its services to an individual with a disability.  This is the fundamental purpose of the ADA laws.  Furthermore, as a result of this failure, it appears a significant ADA inspection was completed at Charlotte Radiology to include the common areas such as the parking at this site.  

Owners and tenants of buildings need to understand that if you are cited for violating the ADA laws, the level of evaluation you may indure may well exceed the issue on the initial complaint.  Having your building inspected for ADA compliance could give you a chance to avoid the punishment administered on Charlotte Radiology within this settlement.  

Any private entity that owns, leases or leases to, or operates a place of public accommodation is responsible for complying with Title III of the ADA. Both tenants and landlords are equally responsible for complying with the ADA. However, your lease with the landlord may specify that, as between the parties, the landlord is responsible for some or all of the accessibility requirements of the space. Frequently, the tenant is made responsible for the space it uses and controls (e.g., the examination rooms and reception area), while the landlord is responsible for common space, such as toilet rooms used by more than one tenant or shared parking spaces.