3 Ways To Make Exam Rooms More Accessible for Patients

An accessible exam room ensures that the greatest number of patients can receive equal healthcare services. Accessibility is not simply necessary for providing the highest quality patient care—the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) makes it the law.

Making these changes to an exam room helps protect the health and safety of the community at large and drastically improves individual patients’ visits. To better understand some of the best adjustments to make, read these three ways to make exam rooms more accessible for patients.

Have Enough Open Space

An accessible examination room provides enough open space for someone with a wheelchair or mobility aid to maneuver. Exam rooms need a minimum of 60 inches by 60 inches of clear floor space for these patients to turn 180 degrees freely. The doorway should have a minimum opening width of 32 inches when opened to 90 degrees.

The exam room should have 30 inches by 48 inches of clear floor space by at least one side of the exam table so that patients can easily come up beside the table and transfer onto it. Keep in mind that some patients may only be able to transfer to and from the table from their right or left side.

Use Accessible Medical Equipment

Regardless of whether they have disabilities, all individuals must receive equal healthcare services. Accessible medical equipment, a key component of an accessible exam room, helps make this possible.

For example, fixed height exam tables are sometimes too high for some patients to use. One of the many advantages of using power exam tables is that staff can lower the table to a height that makes it easier for patients to comfortably get on. Power exam tables make it easier to transition patients between positions as needed.

Additionally, these tables can hold more weight than traditional exam tables, making them a secure and comfortable option for heavy patients.

Train Staff in Accessibility Techniques and Best Practices

Staff must know the location of accessible rooms and portable accessible equipment as well as how to properly operate and maintain said equipment. Staff should receive prompt training on how to use and care for any new devices. New staff should receive training during onboarding, and all staff should undergo periodic refresher training sessions.

Healthcare professionals should also know how to properly assist with transfers and movement of patients with disabilities. Before a staff member provides additional assistance to a patient with a disability, they should speak with the patient directly. By doing this, patients can clearly communicate their wants and needs.

Implementing these three ways to make exam rooms more accessible for patients helps your facility create a welcoming environment with the power to positively affect the health outcomes of all individuals.

Christina Duron is a writer living in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for writing and health helps create thought-provoking and engaging pieces and hopes to use them to empower readers to play a more active role in their personal healthcare journey.