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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


   


 

NEW ORLEANS DENTIST TO PAY $120,000 FOR REFUSING TO TREAT PATIENTS WITH HIV

UNDER SETTLEMENT WITH JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/Pre_96/June95/331.txt.html

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A New Orleans dentist will pay $120,000 in

damages for refusing to treat two HIV-positive patients under a

settlement reached today with the Justice Department. 

     Today's agreement follows a decision last March by the U.S.

District Court in New Orleans finding Dr. Drew Morvant in

violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  In its

decision, the court found that Morvant had discriminated against

persons with HIV/AIDS by refusing to treat them or referring them

to other dentists on the basis of their HIV-positive status.

     The Justice Department sued the dentist in October 1993,

alleging that Morvant and his dental corporation unfairly denied

routine dental services to Russell Hodgkinson and Ismael Pena

after informing them the office did not treat HIV-positive

patients. 

     Following the March 23, 1995 decision, the district court

scheduled a hearing to determine appropriate damages.  In light

of today's settlement, the hearing is no longer necessary. 

   


 

     "Both the law and medical experts agree there is no

justification for dentists or other health care providers to

refuse to treat people with HIV or AIDS," said Assistant Attorney

General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick.  "This settlement,

together with the court's ruling,  demonstrates that such

discriminatory conduct will not be tolerated."

     Under the agreement approved by the U.S. District Court in

New Orleans, Morvant will:

    pay $60,000 in compensatory damages to Russell Hodgkinson;

 

    pay $60,000 to the family of Ismael Pena, who died from AIDS

     in 1993;

 

    make routine dental care available to persons with HIV or

     AIDS, however, he will be permitted to refer such persons to

     another dentist when the dental treatment being sought or

     provided is outside the dentist's area of expertise;

 

    post a policy of non-discrimination on the basis of

     disability, including HIV and AIDS, and inform his staff of

     the policy; and,

   


 

 

    undergo training, along with his staff, on dental treatment

     of persons with HIV or AIDS, infection control in the dental

     workplace, and the ethical duty of medical professionals to

     treat persons with HIV or AIDS.

 

     Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against

persons with disabilities in places of public accommodation, such

as medical and dental offices.  Testing positive for HIV and

having AIDS are both considered disabilities under the ADA.

     The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") and

the American Dental Association have issued policy guidelines

that state there is no medical justification for excluding

persons from dental care solely on the basis of their HIV-positive or AIDS status.  Both organizations recommend the use of

"Universal Precautions" to prevent the transmission of bloodborne

diseases, including HIV, in the health care setting.   Occupational Health and Safety Administration regulations require

dental facilities to use Universal Precautions in all dental

facilities for all patients, regardless of known HIV or AIDS

status.

     On the same day it filed the Morvant suit, the Justice

Department also sued a dental office in Houston for refusing to

treat patients with AIDS.  In September of 1994 the defendant in

that case agreed to pay $100,000 in damages and civil penalties.

In March, the Justice Department intervened in a suit in Maine

against a dentist who also allegedly refused to treat patients

with HIV or AIDS.