Mercy Medical Center settles 2 lawsuits over availability of deaf services

Posted by PKSD Law Firm on Sep 27, 2011 in Firm News

The following is an article from the Des Moines Register published September 27, 2011. Click here for the story.

On the front page of the Des Moines Register today was the powerful story of a Des Moines woman who fought for a necessary change in policy at Mercy hospital, and won.

Polly Fullbright took her husband to the emergency room at Mercy hospital in Des Moines a couple years back. She and her husband are both deaf, and required a certified interpreter to communicate with the doctor and staff. During the five hours her husband was at Mercy before he died of heart complications he had no interpreter available. His final hours were spent completely in the dark, at no point could he talk to his doctor about his needs or his condition.

This was a traumatizing and unacceptable experience for Polly and her family. She and another Iowan who faced a similar situation sued Mercy hospital. As part of the settlement they won, Mercy will soon make a 24/7 video relay service with certified interpreters available for deaf and hard-of-hearing patients. This will make communication accessible for deaf and hard-of-hearing patients when a live interpreter is not available, which was the case for Polly and her husband. Mercy also must administer stronger staff trainings for assisting deaf and hard-of-hearing patients, among other things.

This settlement is great news for Iowa patients who need the services of interpreters. Polly was represented by IAJ past president Thomas Duff. He tipped us off about this settlement and we recognized it right away as an excellent story to highlight the power of our civil justice system to affect positive change. We helped place this story in the Des Moines Register and helped line up a TV interview with Des Moines Channel 8 KCCI, which you can see on tonight's newscast.

These clips show the impact we can have when we use the resources available to us to tell our story. So many of you win similar verdicts and settlements throughout the year. Please see IAJ as a resource to help get the word out if you ever have a powerful and compelling client and/or case that highlights the important role of our justice systems in holding wrongdoers accountable.

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