Reston, VA asked in Medical Malpractice and Civil Rights for Virginia

Q: Is it legal to deny medical treatment to someone based on their disability or is it an ADA violation?

I was actively having an asthma attack and I went to urgent care and they denied me treatment because I couldn't put on a mask due to my breathing difficulties. They told me that if I didn't put on a mask, I had to go elsewhere for medical attention. They told me their hospital systems policy was no mask exemptions, even if a patient is having an emergency like an asthma attack or has a legitimate disability. I went elsewhere for treatment and afterward, I called the patient services and they said that the people at the Urgent Care told me the wrong policy and if a patient is having an emergency or has a legitimate disability they can be exempt from a mask. I have had a documented respiratory disability for a very long time, my primary care doctor has written documentation stating that I am exempt from wearing a mask when needed under the ADA due to my disability. I showed this documentation to them and they still said no we can't treat you.

1 Lawyer Answer
Mrs Lauren Morgan Ellerman
Mrs Lauren Morgan Ellerman
  • Medical Malpractice Lawyer
  • Roanoke, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Dear sir / ma'am:

I am so sorry about the poor care you received. Thankfully, it sounds like you didn't suffer a permanent injury as a result of their misdiagnosis - as you acted quickly to ensure correct care and treatment. As such, you would not likely have a financially viable malpractice claim.

Meaning, most attorneys can only afford to file cases where the potential outcome is greater than $25,000 - $50,000 - as these cases are so expensive for our firms to pursue.

So while the urgent care may have been negligent, it will likely cost you more to file suit than you could recover. As such, our office wouldn't recommend any formal claim.

If you don't wish to recover financially - we do encourage patients to notify the negligent provider so they can make their care better in the future for other patients.

Good luck - glad to hear you are not permanently injured, but so very sorry for the misdiagnosis and stress associated with their bad care.

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