Arizona eye surgery network agrees to pay $1 million, end discriminatory policies towards people with disabilities

The United States Department of Justice originally filed the lawsuit in December 2021 on behalf of an elderly quadriplegic patient, alleging that Tempe, Arizona-based Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center was requiring patients with mobility disabilities to hire third-party medical transport and transfer assistance for outpatient surgical procedures. American Vision Partners was named as a codefendant.

Photo of the outside sign of the Department of Justice

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an elderly quadriplegic patient with multiple sclerosis who objected to the policy.

A network of Arizona eye surgery centers has agreed to pay $1 million in fines and restitution to settle a federal discrimination claim, according to the United States Department of Justice.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) originally filed the lawsuit in December 2021, alleging that Tempe, Arizona-based Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center was requiring patients with mobility disabilities to hire third-party medical transport and transfer assistance for outpatient surgical procedures.

According to the DOJ news release, American Vision Partners, which provides management and training support to ophthalmology practices, including Barnet Dulaney Perkins, was named as a codefendant in the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of an elderly quadriplegic patient with multiple sclerosis who objected to the policy.

According to the news release, medical providers routinely offer this type of assistance to patients who need help transferring from a wheelchair to an examination or surgical table for surgery and exams.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act requires health care providers to offer equal access to their services,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in the news release. “Patients with disabilities must not be denied crucial medical services or forced to pay surcharges because they need transfer assistance. The Justice Department is fully committed to protecting the civil rights of individuals with disabilities to get the medical care they need.”

U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino for the District of Arizona said in the news release the agreement reflects an important step in obtaining equal access to health care services for Arizonans with disabilities.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work closely with the Civil Rights Division to ensure that all Arizonans are afforded equal opportunity to access health care services in our state,” Restaino said in the release.

According to the Justice Department news release, the degree requires that BDP and AVP end their policies of denying surgery and prohibiting staff from providing transfer assistance to people with mobility disabilities. BDP operates eye care facilities throughout Arizona, and AVP, one of the largest eye care practice management organizations in the country, partners with eye care providers in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas.

These eye care providers will also train staff on the new policy requirements and on safe transfer techniques, and pay $950,000 to patients and prospective patients who were harmed by its policies and a civil penalty of $50,000.

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