Challenging Disability Discrimination in the Clinical Use of PDMP Algorithms


ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, Affordable Care Act, Section 1557, PDMPs, clinical algorithms, algorithmic discrimination, clinical ethics

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State prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) use proprietary, predictive software platforms that deploy algorithms to determine whether a patient is at risk for drug misuse, drug diversion, doctor shopping, or substance use disorder (SUD). Clinical overreliance on PDMP algorithm-generated information and risk scores motivates clinicians to refuse to treat—or to inappropriately treat—vulnerable people based on actual, perceived, or past SUDs, chronic pain conditions, or other disabilities. This essay provides a framework for challenging PDMP algorithmic discrimination as disability discrimination under federal antidiscrimination laws, including a new proposed rule interpreting section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.