JOTWELLSNovember 2021 — Medha D. Makhlouf recently published a JOTWELL review entitled “Compounding Vulnerability: Hospital Emergency Rooms as Sites of Race- and Class-Based Police Surveillance.” Her review of Ji Seon Song’s article, “Policing the Emergency Room,” published recently in the Harvard Law Review, notes the article’s contribution to the literature on policing and inequitable access to health care.

In her review, Professor Makhlouf describes Professor Song’s analysis of how current criminal procedure doctrine does not account for the medical vulnerability of patients in hospital emergency rooms (ERs), exposing patients to harmful police practices. She highlights the troubling implications of this gap: the enlistment of medical professionals in policing-related tasks and the targeting of disproportionately poor and minority patients, who are more likely to access ERs for basic health needs. Although Professor Song’s primary field of interest is criminal law, Professor Makhlouf notes the relevance of this analysis to health law scholars. She relates Professor Song’s interdisciplinary approach to her own work, which seeks to provide valuable insights about the intersection of health and immigration laws.

Professor Makhlouf’s JOTWELL review connects the themes of Professor Song’s article to the rising public consciousness of racial health disparities and the problems of racialized policing. She asks, when and how should hospitals become sanctuaries from policing? In her own work, Professor Makhlouf has proposed the creation of “health care sanctuaries”: durable legal protections against immigration surveillance in health care. The review reflects Professor Makhlouf’s view that sanctuary policies can help to recover a lost balance between immigration or police enforcement and the health policy goal of reducing health inequities.

Professor Medha D. Makhlouf is an Assistant Professor and Founding Director of the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic at Penn State Dickinson Law. She has a joint appointment in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine. Professor Makhlouf’s research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of health law, immigrants’ rights, and poverty law and policy. Her recent scholarship has been published in the New York University Law Review, the California Law Review Online, and the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law & Ethics. Professor Makhlouf’s work is available at