March 23, 2020
During this Public Health Emergency it is important to remember that the civil rights of patients still must be upheld. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently provided a Bulletin regarding the civil rights laws and their implementing regulations to ensure they are followed during this emergency. The applicable civil rights laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and religion in HHS funded programs. Other helpful guidance in this area can be found on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website on reducing stigma and on the HHS website on emergency preparedness.
In order to adequately address the needs of individuals that may have been exposed to or infected with COVID-19, government officials, health care providers, and covered entities should consider adopting practices to allow all individuals the ability to access and understand the warnings and direction given to them. Those include, but are not limited to the following:
Each facility and provider should take these items into account when providing services and treatment for any emergency.If you have any questions on how to ensure your facility or provider is following the applicable HHS guidelines, please contact a member of Krieg DeVault’s Health Care Group or Employment Law Group.