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Accessible Health Care: 7. What to Do if You Don't Get Assistance Transcript

[Narrator signing]

Unfortunately, sometimes your communications needs aren’t addressed appropriately and you aren’t given access to the interpreting services that you need.

If that happens, there are things you can do to make sure that you and other members of the deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing community don’t have the same negative experience. 

[Text on screen: Keep track of your requests and the hospital’s response]

As you can tell, it’s important to keep track of your requests and the hospital’s response. You’ll need this information to follow up with the clinic or hospital to address your concerns if you feel your rights were not respected. 

[Rick MacPherson is speaking. Rania is signing.]

You shouldn’t threaten the hospital with a lawsuit or to call your lawyer when you’re in the midst of an emergency situation. There’s nothing a lawyer can do and, frankly, contacting a lawyer from the emergency room may actually slow down your medical care and the hospital’s response. 

[Text on screen: Minnesota Disability Law Center]

They’ll also put you in touch with someone from the Minnesota Disability Law Center where I work. Call our intake line and tell us what happened to you. We can give you free legal advice and explain your legal options. We’ll decide whether we will represent you. This is a voice line.

[Text on screen: You’ll be glad you kept detailed notes]

This is where those detailed notes you kept hearing about come in. It’s easy to feel angry and believe that your rights were violated but the notes provide the facts that we will need to help prove that your rights were violated.

Depending on your situation, there are a number of options available to you:

You have several different ways you can enforce your legal rights if the hospital does not provide an interpreter when you need one:

[Text on screen: File a lawsuit]

You can file a lawsuit.

[Text on screen: Minnesota Department of Human Rights]

You can file a discrimination complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

[Text on screen: US Department of Justice]

Or, you can file a discrimination complaint with the US Department of Justice.

You don’t need a lawyer to file a discrimination charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights or the US Department of Justice. 

But representing yourself can be very difficult because the procedures are complicated and applying the law to your situation can be confusing. 

Having a lawyer represent you is usually a better way to proceed.

In many cases, former deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing patients from around the state have used their own negative experiences to make things better for others. Thanks to their persistence, we have been able to negotiate settlements that required several major hospitals and clinics in both the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota to change their practices for treating patients who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing. 

State and federal laws are in place to ensure that you have access to the communications services you need to get appropriate care. We’re here to help you protect those rights. 

[Narrator is signing]

[Visual of an ambulance]

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of your communications rights during a medical emergency.

[Text on screen: Stay calm and respectful]

If you feel your rights are not being respected, stay calm and respectful. Try not to get frustrated.

[Text on screen: Advocate for your rights]

Advocate for your right to have an interpreter.

[Text on screen: Say you don’t understand]

Let your health care providers know if you don’t understand what the interpreter is telling you or if you don’t think the interpreter is qualified. You have the right to understand what is happening with your health.

[Text on screen: Document your visit]

Document what happens throughout the visit, including the date, the time that you asked for an interpreter and the name of any person that you asked to provide an interpreter.

Thank you for your time.

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