Medical Office That Kicked Out Patient With HIV Settles Discrimination Suit
A health care practice accused of denying care to an HIV-positive man and his family -- a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act -- has settled the federal lawsuit, according to a press release issued by the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, which represented the family in the case. The settlement requires Stephen G. Diamantoni, M.D., & Associates Family Practice of Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania, pay financial compensation to a man identified in the suit as Husband Jones, and his wife and daughter, plus attorney's fees and costs. They are also required to develop an anti-discrimination policy and all staff must undergo training on HIV, its transmission and universal precautions.
When Husband Jones" went to the medical office to get blood work results in October 2013, he was handed a letter saying that he and his family were no longer allowed to be patients in the practice, because he had "left a large amount of blood all over the sink, walls and floor" during a previous visit. The letter also stated that his current medical status as an HIV-positive man was a risk to both the employees and the patients in the office.
Ronda B. Goldfein, the executive director of the AIDS Law Project, as well as Jones' attorney and counsel, says that Jones flatly denied the incident ever happened. In the press release, the AIDS Law Project also pointed out that the doctor's office showed an "alarming lack of understanding" regarding the science of HIV transmission risk from the presence of blood in a bathroom.
As noted in the press release, "Blood on any surface needs to be cleaned, and for more than 30 years the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended 'general-purpose utility gloves for housekeeping chores involving potential blood contact.' Potentially infectious elements in blood are not air-borne."
"It's important for health care professionals, as well as the general public, to understand how HIV is transmitted so they can respond based on science, not fear," Goldfein said.
"Those are the kind of unfounded fears that drive stigma," added staff attorney Adrian M. Lowe.
Husband Jones said he was "ecstatic" with the settlement and that he "felt vindicated," according to the press release. "I hope it sends a message not to treat people like this," he said. "The amazing thing is how ignorant they were about the disease."