By Pat Anson, Editor
An Indiana pain management clinic has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a federal claim that it discriminated against a pain patient by refusing to treat him.
In an unusual twist, the discrimination case filed by the U.S. Justice Department against Pain Management Care of South Bend was not based on the man’s rights as a pain patient – but because of his HIV status. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is intended to protect all people from being discriminated against because of physical or mental disability.
According to the Justice Department, the patient was referred to Pain Management Care (PMC) in November, 2014 after the closure of another pain clinic where he had been treated. The patient sought bi-monthly cortisone injections, which he had been receiving for pain management from his previous doctor.
After sending the results of an MRI exam and other medical records to PMC, the patient received a voicemail message from a clinic employee stating that Dr. Joseph Glazier would not treat him “due to the risks involved with needles and blood due to (his) condition of being HIV positive.”
The patient asked PMC to change its position but was still refused treatment. He was not able to find another pain management doctor willing to treat him until several months later.
“PMC’s discriminatory denial caused (the patient) to endure six months without needed pain management care and to experience emotional distress,” federal prosecutors said.
The case against PMC was filed on April 7th and quickly settled out-of-court, with Dr. Glazier agreeing to pay the patient $20,000 and a $10,000 civil penalty. PMC must also develop a non-discrimination policy, provide ADA training to its staff, and submit annual reports to the government. The consent decree still needs a judge’s approval.
PMC’s website now contains this notice: “Pain Management Care, P.C., does not discriminate on the basis of disability, including HIV. All individuals, including persons with HIV, have an equal opportunity to treatment from Pain Management Care, P.C.”
“The Justice Department is committed to eradicating discrimination resulting from the unfounded fear and dangerous stereotype that someone with HIV would pose a threat to a medical provider,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Discrimination by those in the medical profession breaks a trust critical to ensuring access to appropriate treatment for all.”
This settlement is part of the department’s Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, a partnership of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney’s Offices to target enforcement efforts on access to healthcare for individuals with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by President H. W. Bush in 1990. It is intended to protect against discrimination based on “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”
For more information on the obligations of healthcare providers under the ADA, you can call the Justice Department’s toll-free hotline at 800-514-0301. ADA complaints may be filed by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking here.