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
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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.
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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.
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.
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