Are dentists responsible for paying an interpreter for an impaired patient?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), in most cases if an interpreter is needed to achieve effective communication with a patient, the dentist must retain and pay for an interpreter’s service unless the interpreter is brought by the patient, such as a family member or interpreter that is with the patient on a daily basis. Other appropriate ways to achieve effective communication may include listening devices, note taking and written materials. The ADA does not require any aid that would result in an undue financial burden or in a fundamental alteration in the nature of services provided by the dentist. This does not relieve the dentist of the duty to furnish an alternative aid for hearing impaired patients. Dentists need to assess the patient’s needs on a case-by-case basis to determine the appropriate method of communication.


Answer is informational only and not intended as legal advice. Answer may contain excerpts from
 The ADA Practical Guide to Frequently Asked Legal Questions.