KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville hospital system will pay a fine and revamp how the not-for-profit facilities adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act after a patient, who is deaf, alleged that ineffective communication during treatment at Parkwest Medical Center led to his leg being partially amputated.
The man, whose identity has not been released, said in a lawsuit that he could have avoided his leg being partially amputated if the staff had provided him with a live interpreter during hospital visits in 2017. Here’s what he says happened. His lawsuit was dropped in April after a civil settlement was reached, according to court paperwork.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee opened a civil investigation into the allegations under the ADA. This investigation is now resolved by an agreement between Covenant and the United States, the office said in a press release.
Covenant is to pay a statutory penalty of $50,000 to the United States. In addition, measures that are in effect for the next three years include:
- designating an ADA administrator at each facility to provide oversight and guidance
- identifying services that can provide interpreters to each facility in a timely manner
- providing notice to patients and their companions of their rights under the ADA
- developing an assessment plan to effectively determine the appropriate auxiliary aid for each situation
- providing ADA training
- submitting compliance reports to the U.S. Attorney’s Office
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office commends the complainant for sharing his experience to improve healthcare communication for other persons in the deaf community. Further, we commend Covenant Health and Parkwest Medical Center for cooperating in our investigation and working to promote effective communication with deaf individuals,” said U.S. Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III. “This agreement is a roadmap for success for public accommodations within East Tennessee that aim to improve the participation of deaf persons and other persons with hearing impairments in healthcare decisions.”
Under the agreement, Covenant Health will “implement measures and/or ensure compliance with existing measures aimed at protesting the rights of patients and companions who are deaf or hard of hearing at its hospitals,” the press release states.
Covenant Health operates nine hospitals in East Tennessee.
Claims settled by this agreement are allegations only and no determination of liability has been made, according to the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Tennessee.