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Ethics, Health Care, Disability, Doctor/Patient Relationships, Access to Health Care, Barriers to Health Care, Health Care Bias, ADA, Affordable Care Act


In Healers: Extraordinary Clinicians at Work, by David Schenck and Dr. Larry Churchill, and in What PatientsTeach: The Everyday Ethics of Health Care, their follow-up with Joseph Fanning, the authors look at theeveryday experience of health care and the relationships that shape it. This article expands upon that inquiry by exploring the experiences and challenges of patients with disabilities and by exploring what patients withdisabilities can teach us about the everyday ethics of health care.

The authors of What Patients Teach provide a framework in which to focus on the everyday experience ofhealth care from the perspective of patients. This paper argues that their effort to promote the cultivation ofthe skills essential to relational and patient-centered care should be supported to improve care for all patients, including patients with disabilities. Attention to the ethical dimensions of the experiences of patients withdisabilities in particular yields valuable lessons for clinicians about the architecture and attitudes that impact patient care. It suggests that, in addition to the skills of relationship building, medical students and clinicians should receive disability specific education, including education on the requirements of the ADA in clinical settings. Finally, consideration of the health and health care experiences of patients with disabilities presents an opportunity to develop an ethic of care grounded in the reality of disability shared by both patients and clinicians.