Patients with mobility impairments often face challenges in visiting their medical office due to the physical barriers within medical buildings and offices, including the lack of ramps, grab bars, height-adjustable examination and imaging tables, and inadequate space within which to maneuver a wheelchair or to transfer to an examination table.
Waiting Room and Reception Room
Wheelchair accessible space should be available for wheelchair users to park while waiting for appointments at their medical office. Consider installing firm chairs with armrests to help those who have difficulty with switching from sitting to standing positions. Reception windows should be height appropriate for wheelchair users (approximately 34 to 40 inches from the ground) and incorporate a counter surface that allows wheelchair users to complete required forms.
Your medical office should include accessible washrooms and appropriate signs to indicate their location. Accessible washroom facilities need sufficient space for turning and transferring, grab bars, and emergency call bells. Sinks, mirrors, soap, and paper towel dispensers should all be at a wheelchair-accessible height.
Wheelchair Accessible Examination Room
Accessible examination rooms have features that enable patients with mobility disabilities to receive appropriate medical care. These features allow the patient to enter the examination room, move around in the room, and utilize the accessible equipment provided. The features that make this possible include:
- An accessible route to and through the room
- An entry door with adequate clear width, maneuvering clearance, and accessible hardware
- Appropriate models and placement of accessible examination equipment
- Adequate clear floor space inside the room for side transfers and lift equipment
All examination rooms must meet requirements of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Accessible examination rooms may need additional floor space to accommodate transfers for certain equipment.
The number of examination rooms with accessible equipment largely depends on the size of the practice, the patient population, along with other factors.
Under the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, an accessible doorway must have a minimum clear opening width of 32 inches when the door is opened to 90 degrees. Maneuvering clearances on either side of the door also must comply with the ADA Standards. The door hardware must not require tight twisting, pinching or grasping in order to use it. The hallway outside of the door and the space inside the door should be kept free of boxes, chairs or equipment so that they do not interfere with the maneuvering clearance or accessible route.
Clear Floor and Turning Space Inside Exam Room
In order for accessible equipment to be usable by an individual who uses a wheelchair or other mobility device, a clear pathway must be available for patient access. The exam table must have sufficient clear floor space next to it so that an individual using a wheelchair can approach the side of the table for transfer onto it. The minimum amount of space required is 30 inches by 48 inches. Clear floor space is needed along at least one side of an adjustable height examination table.
The room should also have enough turning space for an individual using a wheelchair to make a 180-degree turn, using a clear space of 60 inches in diameter or a 60-inch by 60-inch T-shaped space. Moveable chairs and other objects should be moved aside if necessary to provide additional space.
Accessible Medical Equipment
Availability of accessible medical equipment is an important part of providing accessible medical care. Accessible medical equipment includes:
- Adjustable-height exam tables and chairs
- Wheelchair-accessible scales
- Adjustable-height radiologic equipment
- Portable floor and overhead track lifts
- Gurneys and stretchers.
The right solution for accessible medical care depends on existing equipment and space available for the examination room and storage of equipment, the size of the practice and staff, and the patient population. What is important is that an individual with a disability receives medical services equal to those received by a person without a disability.
For example, if a patient must lie down to be thoroughly examined, then a person with a disability must also be examined lying down This examination which requires specialized positioning must be accessible. To provide accessibility, the provider may need an adjustable height exam table. However, if the examination or procedure does not require that a person lie down, then using an exam table is not necessarily important to the quality of the medical care and the patient may remain seated.