SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The US Attorney’s Office has settled a discrimination case with New England Orthopedic Surgeons (NEOS) in Springfield.
In 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office received complaints on behalf of two patients treated with buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid use disorder, who applied for full joint replacement from NEOS surgeons. One investigation found that while NEOS surgeons could have admitted the patients, they ultimately referred the patients elsewhere because the surgeons were unfamiliar with the post-operative pain management protocol required for patients prescribed buprenorphine, thereby violating the ADA has been.
The Hampden County District Attorney is suing the DOJ and seeking documents in the Springfield police investigation
“The Disabled Americans Act protects access to health care for people receiving medical treatment for an opioid use disorder,” said acting US attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell. “Healthcare providers must adhere to the ADA even if it is impractical or makes it uncomfortable.”
Individuals being treated for an opioid use disorder are generally considered disabled under the ADA, and refusal of a medical procedure because a person is taking a medication to treat a disability when the medical procedure is still in place for those taking the medication possible is against the ADA. Under the agreement, NEOS will, among other things, adopt an anti-discrimination policy, provide training on ADA and opioid use disorder, and pay two complainants $ 15,000 each for pain and suffering.
This matter is part of the U.S. Attorney’s ongoing efforts to enforce Title III of the ADA to remove discriminatory barriers to treatment for opioid use disorders. This is the Office’s fifth settlement agreement with healthcare providers since May 2018 to resolve allegations of ADA violations for the treatment of opioid use disorders.