Yes, a doctor can deny you medical treatment. Private doctors have some more leeway to deny treatment to patients than those in Medicare-compliant hospitals, but there are circumstances under which even doctors serving Medicare patients may choose not to serve a patient. In emergency situations, including referrals to specialists from ER doctors, a patient must receive treatment until his or her condition is stabilized. He or she may not be discharged if the discharge would result in a worsened or new medical condition.
Reasons Why a Doctor Can Deny a Prospective Patient Treatment
There are a few reasons why a doctor can refuse to treat a patient. The most obvious of these is if the doctor does not treat patients with the patient’s specific condition. For example, an individual suffering from a throat infection cannot realistically expect a gynecologist to diagnose and treat his or her condition.
Other reasons why a doctor can deny treatment to an individual include:
- The patient exhibits drug-seeking behavior;
- The patient is disruptive or otherwise difficult to handle;
- The doctor does not have a working relationship with the patient’s healthcare insurance provider;
- The doctor’s personal convictions, such as a doctor refusing to perform an abortion for religious reasons or refusing to prescribe narcotics for pain; and
- The patient or the patient’s spouse is a medical malpractice lawyer.
However, there are cases where doctors may not refuse to treat patients. In emergency situations, responding doctors and other healthcare providers are required to stabilize the patient’s condition regardless of the patient’s ability to pay for the treatment or provide proof of insurance. This is required by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA).
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act
As its name implies, EMTALA also requires healthcare providers to provide healthcare to a laboring woman until her baby is delivered. Once the baby is born or the patient’s condition is stabilized, healthcare providers are not required to provide further services.
There is one exception to the healthcare provider’s right to deny services: discrimination. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal for a healthcare provider to deny a patient treatment based on the patient’s age, sex, race, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin.
Work with an Experienced Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you feel you were unfairly denied medical treatment and as a result, you suffered a worsened condition, you could be entitled to recover monetary compensation for your damages through a medical malpractice claim. To learn more about this process, contact our team of medical malpractice lawyers at Baizer Kolar, P.C. to set up your free legal consultation in our office.