By Richard Dobson: For More Info, Go Here…
People with chronic disabling pain frequently complain that doctors discharge them from their practice because of the medications they take. Sometimes doctors refuse to accept patients who are taking opioid pain medications, even though the medications treat a legitimate medical condition.
There may be hope that such actions will be considered violations of the civil rights of patients.
This week the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) signed a formal agreement with Selma Medical Associates, a large primary care practice in Virginia, that may open the door for people with chronic pain to regain their full access to medical care.
Selma Medical refused to schedule a new patient appointment for a man who was taking the addiction treatment drug Suboxone. He filed a civil rights complaint asserting that his rights were violated because has a disability.
According to the complaint, Selma Medical “regularly turns away prospective new patients who are treated with narcotic controlled substances such as Suboxone.”
The DOJ and Selma Medical settled the complaint out-of-court. The full agreement can be read here.
In essence, Selma Medical agreed to stop discriminating on the basis of disability, including opioid use disorder (OUD). The settlement identifies several specific ways that Selma Medical was violating the civil rights of people with disabilities.
“By refusing to accept the Complainant for a new family practice appointment solely because he takes Suboxone, Selma Medical discriminated against him by denying him the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of Selma Medical.
By turning away the Complainant and other prospective patients who are treated with narcotic controlled substances, including Suboxone, Selma Medical imposed eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out individuals with OUD.
Further, Selma Medical failed to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford such goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities.”
In the agreement, Selma Medical agreed to stop discriminating now and in the future. The staff and administration are also required to undergo intensive training on the implementation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).