Providing equal access to healthcare for all patients with mobility or communication limitations, as well as for patients with no limitations or disability, is an important issue for healthcare organizations.
As demographics shift and the population lives longer, the percentage of older adults visiting the point of care is increasing. Additionally, caregivers are increasingly interacting with patients who are classified as obese or have a disability. This is further compounding the importance of ensuring your point of care is accessible for all patients visiting the facility for an exam, procedure or consultation. It precisely illustrates the commitment to providing better care through better design.
An accessible exam room has features that make it possible for all patients, including those who are disabled and/or use mobility devices, to receive equal medical care. Under ADA Standards for Accessible Design, all patients should be able to enter the exam room, move around in the space and utilize the equipment provided.
Below is a checklist of considerations to help ensure basic accessibility principles are followed in your practice or clinic.
- Fully accessible room design with a minimum of 30″ x 48″ of clear floor space around the exam chair for patient entry, exit and transfer, or to accommodate a portable lift device, walker or wheelchair.
- Adequate space within exam rooms that allow for an individual using a wheelchair to make a 180-degree turn, using a clear space of 60″ in diameter or 60″ x 60″.
- Hallways to the exam room and other common areas that are free of obstacles such as boxes, chairs and tables, and allow easy navigation by everyone.
- Exam room entry door with a 32″ minimum width when door is open to 90 degrees to allow room for mobility devices.
- Exam chair surface that lowers between 17″ to 19″ above the floor, or wheelchair height, so there is no need to step up to access the exam chair.
- Removable/adjustable support rails that allow patients to be easily transferred on and off the exam chair.
- Exam chair surface extensions, such as head and foot rests, for additional support and positioning options.
- Scale integrated into an exam chair or an accessible scale with a high weight capacity and a platform large enough to fit a wheelchair.
- Inclusive appointment policies and exam procedures that provide for all types of physical and communication needs.
- Staff trained to understand and respond with sensitivity to people with different types of disabilities, including less visible impairments such as deafness, cognitive impairments and mental illnesses.
As you continue to search for new solutions and best practices that help you provide better care for your patients, accessibility should remain top of mind. Ensuring your facility is easily accessible to all patients is one of the most important steps you can take toward offering a better experience at the point of care.
For more information on accessibility, as well as other topics focused around better care and outcomes, visit the Midmark resource library.