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Health Serv Res. 1983 Winter; 18(4): 551–574.
PMCID: PMC1068777

Can hospital relocations and closures be stopped through the legal system?


The recent history of litigation to stop hospital closings in or relocations from minority communities is reviewed. Legal arguments and facts raised by plaintiffs and defendants in seven cases are summarized in the context of civil rights and health planning legislation. The results of the litigation are mixed. One hospital was denied permission to close, but this was decided principally on procedural grounds. A planning agency's recommendation against closing another hospital may prove difficult to implement for financial reasons. Several cases have resulted in modifications of relocation plans and have established guarantees of certain rights to plaintiffs. These, however, may be difficult to enforce if hospitals lack the desire or resources to sustain needed levels of service. Generally, the courts have been reluctant to undertake socioeconomic decision making. They have tended to excuse relocations with racially discriminatory impacts when it has been argued that the relocations were necessary for hospital financial survival, and they have been unwilling to test the credibility of those arguments. Legal avenues to contesting with success the closing of most hospitals also appear to be blocked by similar untested contentions.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Weiss JE, Greenlick MR. Determinants of medical care utilization: the effect of social class and distance on ontacts with the medical care system. Med Care. 1970 Nov-Dec;8(6):456–462. [PubMed]

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