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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 7, 2020

Massachusetts General Hospital Enters Agreement with U.S. Attorney’s Office to Better Ensure Equal Access for Individuals with Disabilities

BOSTON – Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office entered an agreement today, under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to resolve allegations that MGH denied a patient with cystic fibrosis eligibility for a lung transplant because he was being treated with a prescription medication for opioid use disorder (OUD).

At the time MGH evaluated the patient to determine if he was eligible to receive a transplant, the patient was actively participating in a supervised rehabilitation program and not engaged in the illegal use of drugs. Because the patient was being treated with prescription medication to treat his OUD, MGH rejected him for consideration for a transplant and failed to further evaluate him in accordance with its standard transplant consideration process, including consultation with appropriate specialists.

When the patient was able to receive a lung transplant at a different hospital in another state, his mother, who was needed to provide support after the procedure, was required to leave her job and move from her Massachusetts home to be near the transplant hospital while the patient recovered from surgery. The distance from home, family and community caused them both considerable financial and emotional distress.

Under the agreement, MGH will: implement a non-discrimination policy stating that MGH will not unnecessarily deny or limit treatment for individuals on the basis of disability, including OUD, or the use of medication to treat OUD; provide ADA training to medical staff involved in decisions about transplants; and provide the patient and his mother $250,000 in monetary relief for their emotional distress and out of pocket expenses.

“By cooperating and doing the right thing, MGH is eliminating barriers to addiction treatment and fulfilling the promise of the ADA: full access to medical services, regardless of disability,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.  

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Justice Department plays a central role in advancing the nation’s goal of equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. The Justice Department will continue to use its enforcement and technical assistance tools to eliminate unlawful discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Dorchak of Lelling’s Civil Rights Unit with Senior Trial Attorney Alyse Bass of the Justice Department’s Disability Rights Section.

The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was established in 2015 with the mission of enhancing federal civil rights enforcement.  For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-ma/civil-rights.

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Component(s): 
Updated August 7, 2020