HHS to hospitals: Goal is 'leaving no one behind during an emergency'

The Office for Civil Rights of HHS to is reminding hospitals and health systems of their legal obligation not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex and exercise of conscience and religion.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, physicians should not deny medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life or judgments about a person’s relative “worth.” Instead, physicians should determine a patient’s treatment based on individualized assessments, the office stated in a bulletin published March 28.

“Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless utilitarianism,” said Roger Severino, the office's director. “HHS is committed to leaving no one behind during an emergency and helping healthcare providers meet that goal.”

The bulletin was released after a leaked letter from Henry Ford Health System and other notices from hospitals that describe policies on how to ration care if hospitals run out of ventilators and intensive care unit beds. 

The bulletin also reminded hospitals of HIPAA flexibilities and the information they can share with first responders, the CDC, family members and others.  

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