Complaint Regarding Discriminatory Hospital Visitor Policy Resolved

February 24, 2021

The Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (HHS OCR) has resolved a disability discrimination complaint against the MedStar hospital system, which operates in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. Complainant William King is a 73-year-old man with communications-related disabilities, who was refused access to his designated support person during a lengthy hospital stay. As a result, he alleged that MedStar failed to provide him auxiliary aids and services necessary to ensure effective communication, and subjected him to serious risk of inadequate care, unnecessary physical and chemical restraints, and lasting emotional harm. As part of the resolution, MedStar revised its visitor policies to make clear that patients with disabilities who require support persons to communicate or to access its programs and services are entitled those in-person supports with appropriate coronavirus safety mitigation measures.

The OCR Complaint was brought by Disability Rights D.C. and joined by CPR, CommunicationFIRST, the Arc of the United States, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.

Read the complaint.

Read MedStars’ revised policies on designated support persons.