Medical center settles 2 lawsuits over absent deaf services

Mercy Medical Center in Iowa settled two lawsuits regarding the limited sign language services for deaf patients, reports the Des Moines Register. Following the death of her husband from a heart defect, Polly Fullbright said that although the medical staff provided good care, the lack of sign language interpreters resulted in her husband, William, struggling to keep up with what the providers were saying before his death. In another lawsuit, Sherry Barnard filed the suit after her mother, Judith Barnard, did not receive a sign-language interpreter after a hysterectomy in 2008, which led to problems of communicating pain levels, according to the article.

Mercy Medical Center said in a statement that it provides a monthly average of 127 hours of in-person sign language interpretation while noting a severe shortage of interpreters in the area. "We will work together to ensure healthcare providers are able to communicate effectively with persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing," the hospital said, reports KCCI 8 Des Moines.