Visitor Question

Is Gastroenterologist liable for refusing to treat me after surgery?

Submitted By: D (Roseville, CA)

The day following an Endoscopic surgery, which was a Saturday, my left arm, shoulder and neck began hurting. On the following Monday, 2 days after the procedure, I contacted the doctor’s office and the receptionist informed me he was not available.

This same receptionist tried to offer me medical advice preceding my pre-op surgery and I kindly asked if she was a nurse. Her supervisor was very uncooperative and rude to me in addition to the receptionist.

I informed the GI doctor when he met with me in surgery before I was put under and he informed me that he had other complaints regarding his office assistant and encouraged me to submit a grievance in writing directly to him.

Anyway, after being informed that the doctor was not in the office, he called me within 5 minutes of me having to hang up on his receptionist who was persistently raising her voice to me on the phone in a demeaning manner.

I was crying and agitated when the doctor called and informed him of the unusual pain I had been experiencing since the surgery. His response was to refer me to another facility as he did not want to deal with me. He said it was best since I was having problems with his staff.

I expected this so called professional doctor to respond with a need for me to come in regardless of his staffing problems, in order to diagnose what was going on with me since the surgery 2 days prior. He did not.

Since the procedure I have had left arm and shoulder pain, and pain has now spread to the entirety of my back. I have had severe breathing problems since the surgery and various forms of abdominal pain. I have seen a specialist and been to the ER three times since this surgery.

I feel the first doctor is liable for my health issues that have been worsening since the surgery, and also for his refusal and neglect to take care of my health issues that have manifested since the surgery.

Is the Gastroenterologist liable if he will not see me following an upper GI procedure involving biopsies with complications thereafter? Do I have any recourse as far as this doctor is concerned? Thank you for any direction you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear D,

Patient “Abandonment” is entirely inappropriate. One of the most frequently filed complaints against doctors is patient abandonment.

You have the right to contact the California State Medical Board to file a complaint if your are convinced the doctor abandoned you at a time when you were his patient and were in pain resulting from his procedure. Be sure to gather evidence of the medical treatment you received after the doctor refused to see you. That will be supportive of any claim you may decide to file.

Any lawsuit against the doctor would have to be based on injuries you suffered as a “direct and proximate” result of either the procedure the doctor performed or as a result of his abandoning you.

If you are able to prove your most recent pain and suffering might not have occurred but for the doctor’s abandoning you, your claim would be credible. If the pain you are presently suffering would have been apparent even if the doctor agreed to see you, your claim would be less credible.

If you intend to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor you will have to consult with an attorney. Medical malpractice cases should never be pursued individually. Because of the complexity of issues involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit an attorney’s representation is vital.

Most personal injury attorneys who practice medical malpractice law do not charge for initial office consultations. Before making an appointment with an attorney be sure to have all the medical documentation of your procedure and subsequent health issues related to the procedure.

You have a right to have the doctor tender to you a full copy of your medical records. Those records should accompany the other documentation when you visit with the attorney.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: December 15, 2012

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