ADA Opioid Allegations Cost New England Ortho Practice | Orthopedics This Week
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ADA Opioid Allegations Cost New England Ortho Practice

Source: Pixabay and geralt

A Springfield, Massachusetts-based New England Orthopedic Surgeon (NEOS) practice was accused of discriminating against patients with Opioid Use Disorder (a category under the Americans with Disabilities Act) and have agreed to settle any allegations that the orthopedic practice violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

NEOS is an 18-physician practice. Its physicians perform surgeries at Baystate Medical Center (Baystate) and are required to follow Baystate policies and procedures for those surgeries. In 2019, Baystate changed its protocols involving patients who were being prescribed buprenorphine treatment. The change required that those patients be maintained on the medication when undergoing total joint replacement.

In the settlement agreement, NEOS claims that it “had safety concerns about managing post-operative pain under Baystate’s protocol, and, therefore, for a five-month period, while it was consulting with professionals regarding Baystate’s new protocol, it did not perform total joint replacement surgeries on individuals who were prescribed buprenorphine.”

The U.S. “found that NEOS denied two individuals a total joint replacement surgery because they were prescribed Suboxone.” Suboxone is a medication containing both buprenorphine and naloxone.

Under the ADA, individuals with Opioid Use Disorder are individuals with a disability and are entitled to ADA protections. According to the settlement agreement, by refusing to operate on individuals taking medication for their Opioid Use Disorder, NEOS “imposed eligibility criteria that screened out individuals with disabilities on the basis of their disability in violation of the ADA.”

NEOS entered into the settlement agreement “to avoid further litigation of this matter.” In the settlement agreement, “NEOS expressly denies that it discriminated against complainant because she was prescribed buprenorphine.”

To resolve the matter, NEOS is taking certain actions in accordance with the settlement agreement including not discriminating against individuals on the basis of Opioid Use Disorder. Further, NEOS will draft, adopt, and enforce a nondiscrimination policy. NEOS will also provide training to employees and contractors on the ADA and Opioid Use Disorder. Finally, NEOS has agreed to pay $15,000 to each of the two individuals that were denied treatment.


4 thoughts on “ADA Opioid Allegations Cost New England Ortho Practice

  1. I was refused foot surgery because I was taking opioids for lumbar pain and secondary nerve pain. He told me to come back ” after my back is fixed” but back surgery has not been recommended. How can I walk for exercise when my feet are severely deformed due to bunions? My toes are creeping on top of one another. My pain in lower back and legs is 24/7. I have been on SSD since 1995 for chronic fatigue syndrome, but fatigue cn be caused by chronic pain. PM has since cut my pain relievers from 90 mmE to 30 mmE with resultant decrease in activities. We need help!!

  2. What an upside down world we are living in at this time! Chronic pain pts can not get pain meds that had once provided some pain relief for them to have a level of life they had accepted only to have it ripped away! And a Facility who actually cares about patients PAIN is being sued for looking out for the well being of pts.
    For ppl who don’t know Suboxone has Narcan/Naloxone in it which is what is given to ppl who overdose on opioids. So it undoes what an opioid does. Surgery of any kind can be very painful a total Joint replacement and the recovery w/o appropriate pain care well GOOD LUCK! I would bet if these Drs had done the surgery w/ these pts on Suboxone they would be getting SUED for Malpractice bc of the amount of PAIN these patients would have been in!! Just sayin!!

  3. This is disgisting. It is bigotry, pure and simple. There is NO MEDICAL REASON WHATSOEVER to deny surgery to a person who takes Suboxone, and if anyone says there is, he is ignorant or lying or both. Would these surgeries have been denied if they were necessary to save the person’s life?

  4. This has been happening to all patients who are prescribed opioids. doctors dentists have dismissed patients for using opioids for chronic pain. Pain medications that are prescribed by pain management specialists.. The mental physical and financial livelihood of these patients have been grossly altered. 15,000. is a drop in the bucket.

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