Q: Can I sue a hospital for refusal of medical care based on discrimination of my homelessness and substance use history?
I went to the hospital that diagnosed me and has my MRI results because that's where I received referrals to spinal surgery and orthopedic surgery. They refused to treat me because I have a substance abuse history and am homeless. A doctor at the hospital revealed to me that they were not going to help me because I am being labeled as such. I noticed in my medical records in that hospital that they noted substance abuse disorder as a diagnosis which violates my confidentiality. They also noted that I am a PUI (Person Under Investigation for COVID) since 2019 but never told me. I found out several things on my own that they never disclosed nor discussed with me that have caused my conditions to worsen severely behind not advising me. I am disabled, immobile, a patient of Mental Health, a college student, and chronically homeless for 41 years now. I was going to receive a housing voucher recently but was placed back in que simply for being in the hospital.
Under California law, you may have grounds to sue a hospital if you can prove that they refused medical care based on discrimination against your homelessness or substance use history. This could potentially violate both state and federal laws, including the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires hospitals to provide emergency health care regardless of legal status, citizenship, or ability to pay. Additionally, if your confidentiality was breached regarding your substance abuse disorder diagnosis, this may raise issues under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The misclassification as a Person Under Investigation for COVID without proper notification could also be a concern. It's important to gather evidence and consult with an attorney experienced in healthcare law to explore your legal options. Remember, each case is unique and the viability of your claim will depend on specific facts and evidence.
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.