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New Public call for PA service
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7 Microaggressions Disabled Folks Face at the Doctor’s Office—and 6 Ways to Fix Them

Doctors and staff should not:

1. In general, examine a patient who uses a wheelchair in the wheelchair, even if the patient cannot get onto the exam table independently. It is less thorough and does not provide the patient equally effective medical services.

2. Deny service to a patient with a disability or chronic condition whom they would otherwise serve. Patients should be provided an accessible exam table, stretcher, gurney, or patient lift, or have trained staff assist the patient in transfer. (Though staff safety is important, a doctor’s fear of another staff member injuring themself does not justify refusing to provide equal medical care. This is where proper training and equipment come into play.)

3. Tell a patient with a disability or chronic condition to bring someone else along. If the patient chooses to bring someone, that’s their decision. A patient has a right to come alone.

4. Refuse to treat a patient who has a disability or chronic condition because the exam might take more time.

5. Avoid seeing a patient or making a patient wait longer than others to be seen.

6. Tell the patient “I know what you’re going through.” Even if the provider has the same condition or disability, no two people experience it the same way.

7. Make any comments about the patient’s appearance, efficacy, or experience that they wouldn’t say to any of their other patients.

Instead, doctors and staff should:

1. Ask their patients if assistance is needed, what works best for them, and what the best way to help is.

2. Address the patient directly, not the patient’s companion. Even if a patient has a disability or chronic condition, it does not necessarily mean they cannot speak for themselves or understand exam results.

3. Check in with the patient about their concerns and reasons for coming in, and make sure to address those by the end of the visit.

4. Respect the fact that patients know their bodies and sensations better than anyone else.

5. Instead of focusing on the condition or disability (unless medically relevant), offer well-rounded care like they would to any other patient.

6. Proactively seek continued education and training through local or national disability organizations on how to operate equipment, how to assist transfers, and how to position people with disabilities so that patients are comfortable.  


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