Man Sues Doctor For Calling 'Homosexual Behavior' a 'Chronic Problem'

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Wednesday August 13, 2014

In an effort to help young people who may be struggling with their sexuality from harming themselves, a Los Angeles gay man is suing his doctor and a Southern California healthcare network for ignoring his earlier request to remove a notation on his medical records that describe "homosexual behavior" as a "chronic problem."

"It was infuriating. It was painful," said 46-year-old Matthew Moore of his decision to sue, in a recent story on NBC4 . "It was another attempt by this doctor and this medical group to impose their agenda of discrimination and hate onto a gay patient."

It was reported last August that Moore went to see Dr. Elaine Jones of the Torrance Health Association for a physical in April 2013, when the doctor diagnosed his sexual orientation as a "chronic condition." Later, she changed it to a "chronic problem." He took umbrage at both descriptors.

"When I looked up code 302.0 and it's sexual deviancy or mental illness, and that code has been removed or suggested heavily not to be used since 1973," Moore said in 2013. "My jaw was on the floor. 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."

After discussing the matter with his attorney and friends, Moore returned to the doctor's office and let her explain her findings. She defended her diagnosis, however, and Moore said he was "dumbfounded."

When he asked the doctor how he could treat homosexuality, she said that it "is still up to debate" and that being gay is "still being thought of as a disease," Moore said.

So he wrote a letter to the Torrance Memorial Health Association complaining of the diagnosis, and received the following apology, as reported by NBC4.

"We would like to unequivocally state that the Torrance Memorial Physician Network does not view homosexuality as a disease or a chronic condition, and we do not endorse or approve of the use of Code 302.0 as a diagnosis for homosexuality," Torrance Health Association Senior Director Heidi Assigal wrote to Moore.

The association also issued a media statement saying the designation had been used as a result of "human error" and claiming that "upon notification by the patient the record was corrected."

But when he obtained a copy of his medical records in May, he was stunned to find that although the 302.0 code had been removed, his sexual orientation was still listed under "chronic problems." He filed a lawsuit in July against Dr. Jones and the network for intentional infliction of emotional distress and libel.

The suit seeks both punitive and compensatory damages and alleges that the defendants "engaged in a pattern of deceit and medical record doctoring in an attempt to establish that they had earlier removed and retracted the defamatory content, when in fact they had not removed and retracted the defamatory content until the latter part of May 2014."

On August 6, the defendants' attorneys filed a motion to strike, arguing that Moore's complaints were "vague and ambiguous." The Torrance Memorial Physicians Network also blame the error on "highly complex software" used in creating the record.

But Moore's not buying it. He said that he believed Dr. Jones felt homosexuality was a problem, adding that, "I don't want any gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual ever to hear from a doctor that their normal and healthy sexuality is anything other than that," said Moore, noting that suicides among LGBT youth is higher than other groups. "Maybe we all just saved a life today."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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