(HealthDay News) — More than one-third of US physicians report knowing little or nothing about their legal responsibilities to patients with disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to a report published in Health Affairs.

Noting that the ADA mandates that patients with disability receive reasonable accommodations, Lisa I. Iezzoni, MD, from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues surveyed 714 US physicians in outpatient practices to examine knowledge relating to their legal responsibilities under the ADA.

The researchers found that 35.8% of physicians reported knowing little or nothing about their legal responsibilities under the ADA. Overall, 71.2 and 20.5% of the physicians, respectively, answered incorrectly about who determined reasonable accommodations and incorrectly identified who pays for these accommodations. In addition, 68.4% felt that they were at risk for ADA lawsuits. The likelihood of reporting little or no knowledge of their responsibilities under the law was increased for physicians who felt that lack of formal education or training was a moderate or large barrier to caring for patients with disability; they were also more likely to believe they were at risk for an ADA lawsuit.

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“Our survey findings suggest that there is considerable work to do in educating physicians and making health care delivery systems more accessible and accommodating to achieve equitable care and social justice for patients with disability,” the authors write.

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