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Deaf Man's Family Sues Hospitals for Failing to Communicate

There is no substitute for good communication. It doesn’t matter what the context is, if solid communication is lacking, the chances increase that something will go wrong.

In a hospital setting, the risks of failing to communicate often result in a patient’s condition getting worse or death. Considering that such failures are often due to negligence on the part of hospital staff, it is no wonder that the victims of such avoidable pain and suffering seek to hold hospitals and their people accountable.

A case from another state serves as example. The claim being made in the federal lawsuit is that three care facilities neglected their obligations to ensure proper communication with an elderly deaf patient and his family. The result is that he died without ever knowing about the cancer killed him. His family claims it never was informed, either.

According to one news report about the case, the deaf 82-year-old man died in April 2013. Over the course of his final seven months of life, he received treatment at three different medical facilities. At each one, the suit says, he and his deaf adult children requested the help of interpreters for the deaf and in each instance their requests were denied.

The suit says the patient and the family were never told that he had skin cancer. They say impatient doctors refused to write information down and told them everything was fine. They claim there were also errors made regarding medications and their father’s medical history.

The suit alleges that in addition to inflicting mental anguish, the failure of the facilities to provide interpreters violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Source: WCBS-TV, “Family Suing 3 L.I. Medical Facilities After Deaf Man Dies Without Knowing Diagnosis,” Feb. 18, 2014