The U.S. Department of Justice has settled two claims that Milwaukee-based Aurora Health Care discriminated against patients with HIV in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Under the settlement agreement, Aurora will pay $30,000 to one patient, another $15,000 to the spouse of the second patient, and a $15,000 civil penalty to the federal government.
One patient alleged that an orthopedic surgeon refused to perform a surgery on him in August 2015, saying he had chosen not to perform surgery on patients with HIV because of the risk of blood-borne pathogen transmission.
The second patient alleged that an Aurora urologist refused to remove the patient’s catheter in January 2016, citing concerns with the possibility of blood in the patient’s urine. The patient had his catheter removed at another medical facility.
Under the agreement, Aurora has reviewed and revised its nondiscrimination and infectious disease policies.
“We believe that patient discrimination of any kind is intolerable,” said Tami Kou, director of public affairs for Aurora. “We are deeply saddened by these patients’ experiences, and we sincerely apologize to them for any hurt we have caused. What occurred is an isolated incident; we believe the civil rights of all patients should be upheld during each and every patient encounter.”
Kou added that Aurora has made improvements to its civil rights program by requiring mandatory supplemental training for all physicians.
The complaints were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and national ACLU HIV Project.