By 365gay Newscenter Staff
(Milwaukee, Wisconsin) A federal lawsuit was filed Thursday by a Wisconsin woman who alleges she was denied surgery to remove her gallbladder because she has HIV.
Melody Rose, 35, is represented by Lambda Legal and the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. The lawsuit names Dr. Steven Cahee, Agnesian HealthCare, Inc., and Fond du Lac Regional Clinic.
Dir of the Legal Services Program, AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin:
Discrimination in healthcare remains a major problem for people living with HIV. In violation of both federal and Wisconsin law, Dr. Steven Cahee refused to provide needed medical treatment to our client, Melody Rose.
The court papers say that Rose experienced health problems with her gallbladder while incarcerated at Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Fond du Lac. Ultimately, her physician referred her to Dr. Steven Cahee at the Fond du Lac Regional Hospital to have her gall bladder removed.
The court filing alleges that Cahee refused to perform the surgery after learning Rose is HIV-positive. Some time thereafter, a surgeon at a different medical facility removed Rose’s gallbladder in a laprascopic procedure, which is considered routine surgery.
Staff Attorney with Lambda Legal’s HIV Project:
Dr. Cahee’s actions fly in the face of ethical behavior for a medical professional. Long ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established that using universal precautions — which are required in all sorts of medical situations, including surgeries — makes it extremely unlikely for the virus to be transmitted in this setting.
The complaint filed today alleges that the defendants violated four different state and federal laws. The complaint also alleges that the defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and its state law counterpart, which both prohibit disability discrimination by places of public accommodation (including healthcare providers); the Rehabilitation Act, which requires recipients of federal financial assistance not to discriminate against people with disabilities; and a Wisconsin law addressing HIV discrimination specifically, which forbids healthcare providers from denying services to people (or humiliating and degrading them) based solely on their HIV status.
The health center has not commented on the suit.