Accessible Medical Equipment
Due to barriers, individuals with disabilities are less likely to get routine preventative medical care than people without disabilities. Accessibility is not only legally required, it is important medically so that minor problems can be detected and treated before turning into major and possibly life-threatening problems. This article provides an explanation of some of the requirements by the ADA.
The right solution or solutions for providing accessible medical care depends on existing equipment, the space available both within the examination room and for storage of equipment, the size of the practice and staff, and the patient population. What is important is that a person with a disability receives medical services equal to those received by a person without a disability. For example, if a patient must be lying down to be thoroughly examined, then a person with a disability must also be examined lying down.
Exam Tables and Chairs
Traditional fixed-height exam tables and chairs (also called treatment tables or procedure tables) are too high for many people with a mobility disability to use. Individuals with mobility disabilities often need to use an adjustable-height table which, when positioned at a low height, allows them to transfer from a wheelchair, such as MTI's chairs and tables. A handle or support rail is often needed along one side of the table for stability during a transfer and during the examination. Individuals transfer to and from adjustable-height exam tables and chairs differently. Some will be able to transfer on their own by standing up from a mobility device, pivoting, and sitting down on the exam table. Those using walkers may simply walk to the exam table and sit down, while others with limited mobility may walk more slowly and need a steadying arm or hand to help with balance and sitting down. Some people using wheelchairs may be able to independently transfer to the table or chair, while others will need assistance from a staff member. Transfers may also require use of equipment, such as a transfer board or patient lift.
An accessible exam table or chair should have at least have the following:
- ability to lower to the height of the wheelchair seat, 17-19 inches from the floor; and
- elements to stabilize and support a person during transfer and while on the table, such as rails, straps, stabilization cushions, wedges, or rolled up towels.
Once a patient has transferred, staff should ask if assistance is needed -- some patients may need staff to stay and help undress or stabilize them on the table. Never leave the patient unattended unless the patient says they do not need assistance.
Different types of exam tables are used for different purposes. Some exam tables fold into a chair-like position; others remain flat. Either type can be used by people with disabilities with the right accessible features and table accessories. Pillows, rolled up towels, or foam wedges may be needed to stabilize and position the patient on the table. Tilt, adjustability, and headrests, footrests, and armrests may make the examination more accessible for the patient and also easier for the doctor.
Features of Accessible Exam Tables
- Removable/adjustable support rails with continuous gripping surfaces
- Exam surface lowers to 17" to 19" above the floor
- Exam surface may articulate to provide support during patient transfers and positioning
- Rails/armrests can be moved for transfers
- Rails can be added beside the table surface to assist transfers, provide support, or prevent falls
- Positioning and support aids, such as wedges and rolled up blankets, should be available
- Exam surface extensions, such as head and foot rests, provide additional support and positioning options
ADA Compliant Exam Chairs From MTI
With the MTI 527P/S Tri-Power Podiatry Chair, your patients can get comfortable with a full 24" width and a low 19" ADA compliant entry height making patient entry easy for anyone. Two user programmable positions assure rapid movement to often used positions. Positions from upright to contour, flat, and trendelenburg are easily attained with the power lift, back, and tilt functions of the MTI 527P/S Podiatry Chair.
For more information on all ADA-compliant exam chairs from MTI, please visit our website at www.mti.net.