A federal judge has ruled that hospitals in Alabama that failed to provide a basic level of care to some of their patients have violated the federal public health law.
In a ruling released Thursday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said the facilities that are accused of failing to provide adequate care were not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law that requires public facilities to provide accommodations to people with disabilities.
He ordered them to fix their problems within a year.
Breyer’s ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed by two Alabama hospitals, two of which have filed lawsuits against the state alleging that the hospitals failed to properly care for people with mental health and physical disabilities.
The lawsuits allege that the Alabama hospitals were unable to diagnose and treat patients, and that they failed to adequately train their staffs.
The lawsuits also accuse the hospitals of failing their residents to obtain care from licensed mental health providers, and failing to properly report the condition of a patient to the health department.
Breyers ruling could affect several other states with similar lawsuits.
The judge found that Alabama had a duty under the ADA to provide basic care to people in its hospitals, and the Alabama Health Care System has a duty to provide it, too.