Frank Morris Jr., Patricia Wagner Quoted in “Strategic Perspectives: Ebola: Legal Implications for the Press, Health Care Workers, Providers, Patients, Employers, and Employees”

Health Law Daily

Frank C. Morris, Jr., Member of the Firm in the Litigation and Employee Benefits practices, and Patricia M. Wagner, Member of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences and Litigation practices, in the firm's Washington, DC, office, were quoted in “Strategic Perspectives: Ebola: Legal Implications for the Press, Health Care Workers, Providers, Patients, Employers, and Employees,” by Lisa A. Weder.

Following is an excerpt (see below for a PDF of the full article):

Patricia Wagner, member of Epstein Becker Green in the Health Care and Life Sciences and Litigation practices, in the firm's Washington, D.C., office, stated, “if an Ebola patient provides an authorization for the institution to talk to the media about that patient’s case, HIPAA would allow such discussions. So, sometimes discussions with the media can take place pursuant to those authorizations.” Wagner used the example where a patient was treated in Atlanta, for whom no information was released, other than the fact that the patient was being treated. Wagner added, “in addition, health care institutions can disclose PHI if they have a good faith belief that the disclosure is ‘necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of a person,’ provided that the disclosure is to ‘persons reasonably able to prevent or lessen the threat.’ It is understandable that in some situations, the use of the media may be the most expeditious method for alerting individuals who might have been exposed.” …

Frank Morris, member of Epstein Becker Green in the Litigation and Employee Benefits practices, head of the Labor and Employment practice in the Washington, D.C., office and co-chair of the firm's American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Public Accommodations Group, stressed that “health care providers should be very careful before refusing to provide care to Ebola patients. Health care providers generally are considered public accommodations under Title III of the ADA. Such public accommodations have the duty to provide the full range of their goods and services to an individual with the disability. As Ebola is likely a disability, a refusal to treat a patient with Ebola is likely a violation of the ADA. Hospitals also generally are covered under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehab Act) because they receive federal financial assistance by virtue of Medicare and Medicaid. The Rehab Act also prohibits discrimination with the disability and thus refusing treatment of Ebola would be problematic under the Rehab Act. Health care providers who refuse to provide treatment [due to] the lack of necessary equipment or training might have a successful defense [as] of [sic] hospitals, in particular, may be expected to have the necessary personal protected equipment (PPE) and trained staff with regard to protocols from the CDC for handling Ebola.”

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