ADA Opioid Allegations Cost New England Ortho Practice
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.