ABPD Issues Guidance on Required Questioning of Immigration Status in Healthcare

June 22, 2023

The Association of Bioethics Program Directors (ABPD), representing nearly 100 academic bioethics programs in North America, has issued guidance on the mandatory questioning of immigration status in healthcare. A new law in Florida (CS/CS/SB 1718) will require hospitals to ask patients about their immigration status and report the data to the state. Following an article authored by two ABPD members in the Hastings Center Bioethics Forum calling for action, ABPD members voted to approve a new guidance for clinicians and healthcare professionals. 

The guidance highlights the ethics  of asking patients about their immigration status, including penalization for utilizing services for authorized immigrants and fear of reporting and deportation for undocumented individuals. The delay in seeking care may result in higher costs and worse health outcomes. To mitigate the potential impact, ABPD suggests various strategies for healthcare providers, and calls for bioethicists, healthcare professionals, and facilities to collaborate in addressing the effects of the law, while advocating for professional integrity.

Columbia Division of Ethics Chief Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD, is president of the Association of Bioethics Program Directors.