(CBS SF) — An openly gay man from Southern California has sued his doctor and health-care network for listing his homosexuality as a “chronic condition” on his medical records.
46-year-old Matthew Moore filed suit against Elaine Jones, M.D., Torrance Health Association and the Torrance Memorial Physician Network in July for intentional infliction of emotional distress and libel.
Moore told NBC4 Los Angeles that following a routine physical in 2013, Jones listed “homosexual behavior” as a chronic condition on his medical records.
“My jaw was on the floor,” Moore told NBC. At first, I kind of laughed, I thought, ‘Here’s another way that gay people are lessened and made to feel less-than,’ and then as I thought about it and as I dealt with it, it angered me.”
Moore also told NBC4 Los Angeles that when he confronted Jones, she defended the diagnosis and said the subject of whether homosexuality is a disease is still up for debate in the medical community.
Moore’s diagnosis had been coded 302.0, an archaic classification for homosexual behavior formerly used by the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.
In his lawsuit, Moore said the Torrance Health Association promised him the diagnosis would be removed, but that when he checked his records again in May it was still there.
In a statement sent to CBS San Francisco, Torrance Memorial Physician Network Public Relations Director Ann O’Brien said,
A old diagnosis code, not in intended for use in the documentation of conditions or illnesses, was incorrectly used in a patient’s medical record in 2013. Following discussions with the patient, every effort was made to remove the code from the patient’s record and we thought it had been expunged from the record. In 2014 the patient requested a copy of his medical record. Due to the highly complex software used in creating an electronic medical record, the incorrect code continued to exist in an electronic table only. As a result, this diagnosis code was included on a copy of the record, which was provided only to the patient.
The suit claims the doctor’s comments and the health care provider’s failure to remove the offensive language in the diagnosis “were done with the intent to cause or were done with reckless disregard of the probability that the Plaintiff would suffer emotional distress.”
The suit seeks an unspecified amount of punitive and compensatory damages to be determined at the time of the trial, which is scheduled to have an initial hearing in January.
Earlier this month, attorneys for the Torrance Memorial Physicians Network filed a “motion to strike” earlier this month, arguing Moore’s complaint was “extremely vague and ambiguous, consists of uncertain allegations, relies heavily on unsubstantiated legal conclusions, and thus does not sufficiently state a cause of action.” The motion urged the court to dismiss parts of the lawsuit.
In the statement provided to CBS San Francisco, O’Brien also said,
We unequivocally state that the Torrance Memorial Physician Network does not view homosexuality as a disease or a chronic condition. An apology has been extended to the patient. Due to litigation initiated by the patient in 2014, we are unable to comment further on this issue.