Lambda Legal and AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin file a federal lawsuit on behalf of a woman who was refused gallbladder surgery because of her HIV status.
Melody Rose is a 35-year-old woman who has been incarcerated in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin since October 2007. In addition to living with HIV while in prison, Rose experienced serious health problems involving her gallbladder. In March 2008, Rose’s physician referred her to Fond du Lac Regional Clinic, where she met with Dr. Steven Cahee to discuss having her gallbladder removed.
After Dr. Cahee learned about Rose’s HIV, he refused to perform the necessary surgery — stating that he was concerned she might infect him and his surgical team. Later, a surgeon at another medical facility removed Rose’s gallbladder in what is considered a routine surgical procedure.
Lambda Legal and AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Rose. The lawsuit alleges that those asked to provide health care to Rose — Dr. Cahee, the Fond du Lac Regional Clinic and Agnesian HealthCare, Inc. — violated both federal and state law by refusing to do so based on her HIV status. In addition to claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and its state law counterpart, which both prohibit disability discrimination by places of public accommodation, Rose also has a claim under a Wisconsin state law that specifically forbids health care providers (and others) from denying services to people based solely on their HIV status.
ARCW Legal Services Program Director Peter Kimball says, “Discrimination in health care remains a major problem for people living with HIV.” Lambda Legal’s HIV Project has represented people with HIV for more than 20 years to help them secure equal access to care, affordable medications and unbiased treatment.
The case is Rose v. Cahee, et al.