Was my husband a victim of patient abandonment?

by Alexis
(Phoenix, AZ)

My husband was discharged from his pain management doctor because he could not get time off work to come in to leave a urine specimen. He was given only 24 hrs notice to comply or risk being discharged. He has had to take time off of work due to another unrelated issue and could not miss anymore "unscheduled" time off.

He attempted to explain the situation and was sent a letter 1 week later notifying him that he was being discharged from the practice. His f/u was only 2 weeks away from the date of the DEMAND to come in for the random urine screening. He is not a "druggy" nor has a history of "drug abuse".

This physician will not refill his meds or see him regarding his recent imaging studies. He has been left to suffer through withdrawals due to the fact that the medications prescribed to him are addicting and he is now physically dependent.

According to my research, they have to give him a reasonable amount of time to secure another physician, otherwise it is considered patient abandonment. We received the discharge letter only a few days prior to his scheduled f/u appointment, which was involuntarily cancelled.

Don't these doctors have an obligation to give him time to find a different doctor? Or at the very least provide him with enough medication to last until he is able to establish with another provider?

Is it unreasonable, on their behalf, to ask my husband to risk his job to come in randomly for drug tests and pill counts? Shouldn't he have been given more time or notice to make arrangements at his office so that he could comply with their request? Do we have any legal options? Thank you for your perspective.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Was my husband a victim of patient abandonment?":

Alexis (Phoenix, AZ):

If the doctor suspects a patient is abusing pain meds, and as a result the patient has become addicted to the drugs, the doctor has the right to dismiss the patient.

Reading "between the lines," it may appear your husband may have avoided going in to give his urine specimen. Of course, that’s just speculation. He also may have had a genuine reason for not being able to comply with the pain management clinic’s request. If so, your husband complied with all requests, and followed all other orders of the doctor and clinic.

If the doctor, through his clinic, did not give your husband more than a day or so to find another doctor, then there may be an issue of patient abandonment. If that's the case, it would be best to speak with a local attorney who can advise you more specifically on your options.

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

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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Comments for Was my husband a victim of patient abandonment?

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Chronic Pain Sufferer
by: Brenda

I went through the same thing with a pain clinic. I have Cervical Spinal Stenosis & had my 3rd surgery in April 2016. I've been suffering from chronic neck pain since the 1st (2009). I lost everything because of the pain; job, house and vehicle.

One pain clinic discharged me because I was in the hospital & couldn't go in for pill count. Then the 2nd one discharged me because I couldn't make it in within 24 hours for a urine test. I had just had an appt that Friday and they called me Tuesday well aware that I paid $60 for transportation.

I was 2 days away from my disability check & pleaded with them to wait until then because I was broke. To show their understanding, she was very rude & I received a discharged letter with a list of drug rehab clinics couple days later.

This happened in November 2016 & my PCP is giving me a very low dosage of Oxycodone (which doesn't help the pain) until I find another pain clinic which I am having no luck.

It's so frustrating that they give you the pain meds then treat you like a drug addict. I bet there's nothing I can do about telling the surgeon I believe the pain is from the plate & screws in my neck and he put in another plate & more screws.

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