Doctor must pay $75,000 for refusing to operate on HIV-positive patient

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PORT JEFFERSON, Long Island – A New York surgeon must pay a patient $75,000 after he refused to operate on that patient because of his HIV status, according to prosecutors who announced a settlement in the case Wednesday.

Dr. William Sher, an otolaryngologist in Port Jefferson, Long Island, was scheduled to perform a biopsy on a growth on the patient’s neck, but canceled the procedure minutes before it was set to begin, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York, which prosecuted the case.

Sher allegedly said he couldn’t operate because the patient, who asked to remain anonymous, is HIV positive, prosecutors said. Three weeks later, another doctor performed a biopsy on the patient’s growth and found it to be cancerous.

Under the settlement, Sher must pay the patient $75,000 and attend training on title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in places of public accommodation, like hospitals. Those with HIV are protected by that act.

Sher does not admit to violating the patient’s rights under the ADA as part of the settlement, prosecutors said.

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