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9 ADA Suggested Features to Look for in Patient Accessible Exam Tables

By CME Corp Staff | June 27, 2023

These days it is hard to imagine a time when

  • buildings had doorways that were too narrow for wheelchairs;
  • parking lots did not have designated spaces close to an entrance for Americans with mobility challenges; and
  • signs forbidding service animals were posted in public buildings.

Through standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) all public buildings and businesses must be accessible to everyone. Today website accessibility for hearing and sight impairment as well as disabilities that affect the ability to grasp and use a mouse are hot topics.

But accessibility is about more than buildings and web browsing. It is also about ensuring medical equipment is not a barrier to comprehensive and accurate healthcare for people with mobility challenges.

For example, how thoroughly can a healthcare provider examine a patient in a wheelchair versus examining that same patient on an exam table?

In 2017 under the Rehabilitation Act and in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration, the Access Board established standards for medical diagnostic equipment. While these standards are not mandatory, they do provide design criteria for healthcare equipment that needs to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Based on these design standards, medical equipment, such as examination tables, should include operational features that offer patients with mobility disabilities the opportunity to transfer themselves independently.

What do patient accessible exam tables look like?


Untitled design (9) copyStart with these ADA proposed design features1:

  1. Adjustable head and back support throughout the entire range of the incline.

  2. Transfer rail supports vertical and horizontal forces of 250 lbs. and does not rotate within its fittings.

  3. When used, stirrups to support, position, and secure the patient’s leg.

  4. Removable/repositionable support rail for unobstructed transfers.

  5. Transfer surface a minimum of 30 inches wide and 15 inches deep.

  6. One short side (depth) and one long side (width) of the transfer surface unobstructed.

  7. Six-inch high minimum clearance above finished floor where equipment overhangs base clearance.

  8. Base permits clearance for a portable floor lift.

  9. Height adjustable to minimum of 17 inches - 19 inches above the floor.



Beyond ADA and Independent Transfer

Many patients with mobility challenges only require a steady hand from a caregiver to move to a patient accessible exam table but others may need more assistance.

Patient lifts in the form of portable floor lifts, ceiling mounted lifts, or free-standing overhead lifts may be necessary for a more secure transfer of the patient. Lifts also decrease the risk of injury to healthcare providers.

CME experts can help you plan and upgrade your healthcare facility’s examination rooms to include medical equipment that complies with ADA standards and helps to keep your staff safe from injury.

Contact us or browse our shop for adjustable height exam tables and a variety of patient lifts. Learn more about our Direct-to-Site services to ensure that the arrival of your exam tables does not disrupt your hardworking staff or valuable patients.


1. https://adata.org/sites/adata.org/files/files/Medical%20Examination%20Tables%20and%20Chairs%2C%20final%202018(1).pdf


About CME: CME Corp is the nation’s premier source for healthcare equipmentturnkey logistics, and biomedical services, representing 2 million+ products from more than 2,000 manufacturers. With two corporate offices and 35+ service centers, our mission is to help healthcare facilities nationwide reduce the cost of the equipment they purchase, make their equipment specification, delivery, installation, and maintenance processes more efficient, and help them seamlessly launch, renovate and expand on schedule.

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