Foley Partner John (Jack) Lord was quoted in the Healthcare Risk Management article, “Patients Can Claim Discrimination,” about discrimination claims against health care organizations from patients.
“Many patients have disabilities, of course, but you cannot discriminate on the basis of a disability and weed people out,” Lord explained. “One example is rationing care, which became an issue when ventilators were in high demand. It would be unlawful to make decisions on whether someone got a ventilator based on their disability, such as saying that someone with Down syndrome is not eligible for a ventilator because you don’t have enough.”
As with best practices for avoiding employment discrimination claims, health care organizations should create policies and procedures and training for frontline staff and administrators. Anyone making decisions about patient care and admissions should be familiar with the law and receive that training.
“Also, they should know that patients may make statements that don’t sound like an obvious discrimination claim, but they say what you’re doing is not fair or you can’t turn them away for this reason. Any claim like that should be vetted to determine if it is a discrimination claim even if those magic words were not used,” Lord said. “Not every claim will be valid, but receiving a complaint and not even investigating it is a big problem.”