The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois found that a plastic surgeon discriminated against a woman with HIV when he refused to perform a breast reduction surgery because of her HIV status. As a result, Midwest Plastic Surgery, in the Chicago suburb Hinsdale, will pay the woman $25,000 and train its employees in antidiscrimination policies.
“Physicians, tattoo artists and others should understand that individuals seeking medical treatment or other physical care should not be excluded based on HIV,” said John R. Lausch Jr. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, in a Justice Department statement. “These settlements should send a clear message that individuals living with HIV are entitled to the same services as everyone else.”
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that public accommodations, such as doctor’s offices, cannot deny services to people who have disabilities, including people living with HIV, access to their services.
According to details from the settlement, the 47-year-old woman sought breast reduction surgery from George Kouris, MD, SC. During the consultation, she told him she had been HIV positive since 1994 and needed the procedure because of significant back pain. He explained that he could not perform the surgery because of her HIV status.
In the woman’s medical file, Kouris wrote: “The patient is HIV positive and has been so for 25 years according to her.… Given the nature of the breast reduction surgery, degree of exposure to blood and bodily fluids for myself and the surgical team, I explained to the patient that I will not take on her elective case.”
The woman suffered back pain and emotional distress but eventually found another surgeon who performed the procedure without reservations.
The ADA was signed into law 30 years ago this week. For more information on the ADA and HIV discrimination, visit www.ada.gov/aids. You can file a related complaint at the U.S Attorney’s Office at http://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/civil-rights-enforcement/complaint. For more information about the ADA visit www.ada.gov, or call 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD).