Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Intern Fails in ADA Claim Against Hospital

The Fourth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals recently decided that Dr. Frank Shin, a medical intern with the University of Maryland Medical System Corporation (UMMSC), did not qualify as a disabled person under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Shin entered the UMMSC program as an intern in 2006 and had received favorable reviews. Soon his performance declined and error rate increased. UMMSC's program director had Shin contact the Employee Assistance Program and also made arrangements to decrease Shin's patient load, to excuse him from participation in certain internship requirements, and to have him to to work under a supervised probation period. At the end of the probation period, Shin's supervising physicians reported that he should be discontinued from providing direct patient care.

UMMSC continued to accommodate Shin, who was diagnosed with ADD in 2007. Shin's doctor reported that although Shin's condition had improved in 2007, he was still unfit to perform the essential functions of his job. Shin was subsequently terminated, and then brought a lawsuit against UMMSC, claiming that he was terminated in violation of the ADA.

The court rejected Shin's claim, stating that in order to qualify for accommodations under the ADA, an individual must be able to perform the "essential functions of his job" with reasonable accommodation. The court ruled that Shin was unable to perform the essential functions of his job and that a reduced workload was not a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

This situation highlights several issues for hospitals. How much does a hospital need to do in order to accommodate a physician? The ADA is typically dealt with by HR professionals. Medical services departments may want to reach out to their HR departments to learn more about the ADA and how physician performance reviews can play a role in the enforcement of this law.

Source: Ogletree Deakins

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