HHS Releases Communication Checklist to Aid First Responders
HHS Releases Checklist to Aid First Responders in Communicating Effectively with Patients
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has released a plain language checklist that is intended to aid First Responders during emergencies that involve individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and communications related disabilities. The AAA issued numerous articles to its members in 2016 about the newly published requirements for all healthcare providers, including EMS agencies, under the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Section 1557. The requirements are intended to prevent discrimination in the provision of healthcare and ensure that all individuals can meaningfully participate in their healthcare treatment, including those patients with LEP and other communications related disabilities.
The announcement yesterday is intended to provide additional resources for healthcare providers to ensure compliance with the ACA Section 1557. The checklist includes numerous recommendations and action steps that EMS agencies can utilize to ensure that they are serving all members of a community in a meaningful way. These recommendations include conducting research about the communities by accessing U.S. Census Bureau data, engaging Centers for Independent Living and local assistance groups, and by preparing emergency messaging that can be disseminated quickly to individuals with LEP and communications related disabilities.
It is important that EMS agencies recognize their obligations under Section 1557 of the ACA to ensure that they can meaningfully serve their communities and remain compliant with their obligations under the law. HHS OCR has published several resources to assist healthcare providers on their website. EMS agencies that are unsure if ACA Section 1557 rules apply to them or have questions about how they can comply can contact the AAA for assistance.