Learn more about Michigan Medicine’s policy on service animals

September 19, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

As a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion, Michigan Medicine is committed to ensuring equal access for all of those in the community. According to the Affordable Care Act, Section 1557, a patient cannot be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

Many patients with disabilities come to Michigan Medicine using assistive devices like wheelchairs, walkers and canes. In addition, some patients may be accompanied by a service animal that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for their handlers.

For example, a dog that calms a person with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack is considered a service animal. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals.

When a patient arrives with a service animal, which generally would be a dog but may include a miniature horse, the animal must be able to accompany them into the clinic or hospital in areas open to the public.

Documentation is not required to identify a service animal. If you are uncertain that an animal is providing vital assistance to an individual, you may ask only the following questions:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

For respect of the patient and to be within compliance, you cannot ask about the person’s disability, medical documentation or ask the dog to perform a task.

Michigan Medicine thrives on providing excellent patient care.

To learn more about Michigan Medicine’s policy on service animals, please watch this video. It has been designed to provide real life examples on how to handle patients with service animals and describes the rights of patients with service animals. You may also download this FAQ sheet to share with colleagues.

If you have any questions or concerns about how to handle service animals or other civil rights issues, please contact the Patient Civil Rights Coordinator at 734-936-6439 or email MichMed_patients_rights@med.umich.edu.

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