Can I sue a specialist doctor for refusing to treat or give me the medication I need based on a claim that he has no experience

Asked over 2 years ago - Huntington Beach, CA

I was referred to a GI about my chronic condition that is out of control. when I got through all the red tape and hassle that comes along with Medi-cal I was able to finally go to the appointment. When I got there he refused to treat me or give the most important medication I needed. He said that he does not have experience in my condition because the Asian community rarely has cases of this condition (He is asian and I am not). I told him I am in urgent need for my medications but he said he cannot help and that I need to see another GI. I think he refused because I have Medi-cal because he made a couple of comments on my insurance. and some racism might be involved because of the Asian comment he made and the fact that all the ppl in the waiting room were asian.

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Rebekah Ryan Main

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    Contributor Level 18

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    Answered . The short answer to your question is: MAYBE. I know that sounds a bit squishy but I’ll explain. The reason the answer is “maybe” lies in the definition of medical malpractice — A doctor’s failure to comply with the prevailing standard of care in rendering (or failing to render) medical care and treatment to a patient which results in compensable harm.
    I would be very surprised to learn that a “specialist” had no experience in a common GI disorder or was unable to do more than send you away. However, I do not have enough facts to determine whether this doctor complied with the standard of care or whether you were harmed by a failure to comply with the standard of care. Another GI specialist can speak to the standard of care. A lawyer can determine whether you’ve suffered compensable harm. Request all of you medical records, ask your current GI if this was a breach and see a lawyer if the answer is “Yes.”
    Best of luck to you.
    Rebekah Ryan Main

    If you found this answer helpful, let me know by clicking the "thumbs-up" button at the bottom of this answer. It’s easy and appreciated.

    This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, does not create an attorney/client relationship and does not create a right to continuing email exchanges.

  2. Terrence Marc Rubino

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    Contributor Level 14

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    Answered . i do not know california law but unless there is something very unusual about calif law, the simple answer is no. go to another GI.

  3. William Scott Adams

    Contributor Level 9

    8

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    Answered . The conduct of the physician does not sound actionable to me, or at least not of a nature that I would wish to pursue. As a medical malpractice lawyer I would actually support the physician for not practicing medicine and administering treatment with which he is not adept and practiced. From a more general perspective, as a personal injury attorney, his statements about race do not sound discriminatory in nature, as much as a rationally based explanation of his treatment demographics impacting on his lack of experience to render the treatment you were seeking. I am not familiar with CA law or Medi-cal, which may have some other quirks that offer you some further remedy or relief. But I would seek treatment from another GI specialist and if you wish further direction on the legal aspect, seek the advice of competent local counsel.

  4. Christine C McCall

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    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . You cannot sue on these facts.

    There are lots of laws applicable to punish physicians who make affirmative bad judgments as to medical care and treatment. But there is no law that affirmatively compels a physician to prescribe or provide medication that the physician does not believe is in the patient's best interests. This doctor told you that he lacks the knowledge to conclude that the drug you wanted was correct for a patient in your circumstances. Given that fact, he had no legal choice but to decline to provide that drug.

    It is possible that there are issues lurking here of insurance bias, racism, or anything else we can imagine. But even if that were true, none of those factors will matter. The physician's stated reason for failing to affirmatively cause that drug to be furnished to you is conclusive and, once he realized that, and absolutely once he stated that, there was no alternative course of conduct other than his refusal.

    Go see another doctor. And, I'll go out on a limb here with this word to the wise: physicians are uncomfortable with patients they don't know who demand specific medications. "The patient reports the symptoms and the doctor selects the treatment" is the model that doctors are comfortable with. Of course, where there is a chronic condition, the patient becomes familiar and knowledgeable with the treatment options and knows what will work. But you have heard of "secret shoppers" in a retail context? Physicians worry about "sting patients" and they can get very unyielding when the patient is too directive about meds. Just take it for what its worth; no need to defend.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice.... more
  5. Joel Jay Kofsky

    Contributor Level 14

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    Answered . No as a general principle.

    Joel Kofsky, Esquire
    1616 Walnut Street
    Suite 2110
    Philadelphia,PA 19103
    215 735 4800

    www.PhillyInjuryLawyer.com

  6. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You cannot sue for this as the above attorneys maintain, and you would need to go to another doctor who can provide you with the proper medical treatment you require. Good luck to you.

    Free Consultation:1-877-258-3083. Serving the Nation.

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