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Can an emergency room doctor or nurse refuse an xray if requested by the patient regardless of the ability or inability to pay?

San Antonio, TX |

epidural was improperly inserted and back pain became unbearable. the only resolution was that they administered an ant-inflammatory and sent me home even though my husband and i begged them to do an xray.

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Attorney answers 7


I am sorry to hear what you and your husband have experienced. Under Texas law, the question is whether the standard of care required the doctor to perform an x-ray, or for the nursing staff to advocate for an x-ray. In other words, what would a reasonably prudent doctor or nurse have done under the same or similar circumstances. If there was a violation of the standard of care, the analysis would then move on to what harm was caused.

If there was negligence and the failure to perform an x-ray caused a permanent or serious injury, then I recommend that you contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney to discuss your potential case. If not, then it is unlikely that your claim would make economic sense to pursue.


Mr. Painter has given you excellent advice.
There is no gaurantee that you have an actionable case.
Please consult with Mr. Painter or an attorney with similar superlative skills.
You will get the answers you need.


From your facts I cannot see that the failure to perform the x-ray led to any injury or problems. Thus, no damages equals to real basis to sue.

DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.


If the standard of care doesn't require an xray for someone in your situation then yes they can refuse it. Even if they were supposed to give you an xray, if the failure to do so did not result in a permanent injury, it's not worth your time and expense to pursue


ER personnel do not have a legal or medical obligation to perform radiology simply because the patient requests it. They are only obligated to perform radiology if the standard of care dictates that they do so. An x-ray would not be sufficient sensitive to reveal anything about spinal epidural issues. You would have really needs either a CT w/ contrast or a myelogram to really see something. So whether radiology was needed in this case really just depends on the symptoms presented, not the patient's request.

If the result of the failure to further work-up a diagnosis caused paralysis, then you need to see a local attorney with medical malpractice experience. However, if the failure to order radiology simply led to continual pain, it is unlikely you'd have sufficient damages to carry on with a lawsuit even if there indeed is a medical error. You are in Texas and Texas has tort reform laws that minimize damage models that are based primarily on pain and mental anguish.


I agree with my friend Mr. Stewart.

Patients may, of course, request whatever care they desire, but doctors and nurses generally have no legal duty to do whatever a patient requests. The law requires them to do what is medically indicated, prudent and reasonable under the circumstances. A lay person is not equipped to decide such matters, so the law commits the decision to the sound discretion of people who are educated and trained in the art and science of medicine, i.e., physicians and nurses. Of course, if they do not exercise their discretion and judgment appropriately and an injury results, they are subject to legal liability.

Good luck.


Unfortunately after Tort Reform in Texas there is no such thing as a medical malpractice case based upon negligence against an Emergency Room or its Doctors or nurses. Unless the level of misconduct arises to that of gross negligence or intentional misconduct, Emergency rooms and their doctors and curses are immune from civil lawsuits. You can certainly consult with a medical malpractice lawyer to confirm this, but most lawsuits against ER doctors are unsustainable.

I'm sorry, but as I have told multiple callers and potential clients since Tort Reform, the only thing they can really do is to vote to put Democrats back into our State Legislature.

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