MDisability Clinical Care

Primary care for people with disabilities across the lifespan.

Disparities in healthcare persist for people with disabilities (PWD). Physical access to medical facilities and equipment continues to be a significant barrier to equitable health care for patients with mobility and physical limitations. For example, only 8.4% to 17.5% of clinics had examination tables that could be lowered to the wheelchair height, requiring dangerous manual transfer by staff and patients (Mudrick, 2011; Sanchez, 2000). Even worse, only 3.6% of primary care clinics had a scale that was accessible for wheelchairs (Mudrick, 2011). Accommodations are rarely provided for many patients with disabilities. In one study, it was found only 17% of visits involving Deaf signers were with a sign language interpreter. This is despite a legal mandate to ensure effective communication (Alexander et al., 2015). Individuals with later onset of hearing loss also have a doubling or even tripling of their risk for developing cognitive impairment (Livingston et al, 2017) yet many providers fail to ask patients about their hearing loss. Many healthcare professional programs have limited opportunities for students and trainees to learn how to effectively care for this population. MDisability within the Department of Family Medicine (DFM) intends to tackle these issues under the clinical aim. Our DFM clinicians have both lived and clinical experience in a variety of disability health topics.