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Hospitals 101

Protections Against Discrimination

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Doctors and Other Health Care Workers: The federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits doctors and other health care workers from discriminating against a person because of a health condition.

This means that doctors and other health care providers cannot do the following:

  • Refuse to treat you
  • Treat you differently than other patients.
  • Provide a different or separate service or benefit than provided to other patients.
  • Use eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out people with disabilities (unless the criteria are necessary).

A health care provider is not required to treat a person who is seeking or requires treatment or services outside the provider's area of expertise.

A doctor or other health care provider may lose his or her license to practice for refusing to treat people with a particular health condition.

In addition, doctors and other health care providers must provide reasonable accommodations if needed for people with disabilities.

If a health care provider discriminates against you because of your health condition:

  • You may go to court to enforce the law. You don't need to file an administrative claim first for this type of discrimination (unlike other sections such as employment discrimination). However, you can't receive an award for money damages.
  • The U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Justice are empowered to bring a civil suit. (You may also have a right to sue under the Federal Rehabilitation Act, state or local laws). To learn how to enforce the ADA, click here


The federal ADA also prohibits hospitals from discriminating against people because of a health condit ion.

If you are discriminated under this section of the ADA, you can sue, but cannot receive monetary damages. You can also request the U.S. Attorney General to investigate an alleged ADA violation. To learn more, click here.

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