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:
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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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It's Only going to get Worse.
by: C. Carpenter

My Heart truly goes out to all of the above comments but keep one thing in mind. YOU signed that "Pain Contract" and by doing so gave them the right to do what they did. Although it's fairly obvious that in some instances you're just not going to be able to give that 24 hour Urine or Pill Count. If you're out of Town or perhaps in the Hospital.

I've found that if you explain and tell them you will do it the next day or whenever else THEY WANT you to that they are generally cooperative, you have to REMEMBER lots of the people working in these Facilites are HS Grads at best and just know how to follow the rules and will just keep Repeating them to you.

So don't ask to speak to someone else HANG UP and CALL BACK and when the person answers ask to speak to the Social Worker or whoever has been either assigned to you or if by chance you have developed sometype of rapport with a worker.

The problem comes when the person they are calling is already on their "Abusing Patient List" or already Singled out. Then they are looking for ANY REASON to terminate you as a Patient.

The worst part about that is there is a REAL BIAS if you're covered in Ink and in ripped Jeans and a T Shirt they might Automatically put you in that Catagory, which is 100% unfair because lots of people in pain are on Disability and can not afford Hugo Boss suits.

I have a HUGE PROBLEM with "Pain Contracts" I DON'T LIKE THEM and it has nothing to do with I might "Break a Rule."

I find them to be Basically assuming everyone is "Abusing or Selling Narcotics." What those Contracts do or imply is NO Different then what a PAROLE OFFICE or a person on PROBATION has to adhere to, ONLY I'm NOT a Felon. I have SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITIONS that require pain meds.

I've done nothing wrong and to expect someone to just drop everything and run to give a Urine Sample after they gave one 2 days prior is wrong, it's that simple, it's JUST WRONG.

We are people seeking Help, plain and simple, and when YOU'RE IN PAIN you really don't have the energy or sometimes it's just to hard to THINK through the pain to deal with all the Hoops you have to jump through.

The Majority of Pain Clinics are just Rip offs. In the last 35 years I've been to 6 or 7. If someone refers you to "ADVANCED PAIN MANAGMENT" simpy say NO, it's beyond a Rip Off and is not going to give you pain meds.

They may possibly for the first month but it's not there Policy and I'm ALL FOR OTHER TREATMENTS no one wants to take Narcotics. That EUPEUPHORIC FEELING HAS BEEN GONE FOR YEARS NOW if you don't take them not only are you in pain but you don't feel normal, it's a terrible circle.

HOW CAN THEY EXPECT someone to take Morphine Everyday for 10 years and NOT BE ADDICTED? I went to an Advanced Pain Center and Told the Doctor I wasn't going to be a "Poodle Jumping thru Hoops" for 30 Vicodin once a month.

Then I found a Good Pain Clinic who at First Treated me like a Drug Seeker but once they recieved my Records it all changed.

I think THAT'S THE KEY OR IMPORTANT THING... if you have the Tests and the Documentation plus a LETTER FROM YOUR PHYSICIAN EXPLAINING your exact condition and adding that you're an Upstanding and Honest Person who is very Compliant, they can only benefit. If you have or do those things it should not be a problem

It's the people who go in with the problems of Back Pain or Head Aches. These are conditions that are hard to prove and the ones that Turn the Light Bulb on in ERs or Pain Clinics.

So here's the Big thing...

WE THE PATIENTS CAN NOT WRITE PERSCRIPTIONS. We are not the ones who got us addicted and then because of Law Changes just cut us off... or find a Non-Legitimate reason.

Heroin is on the upswing in Small towns all thru the Nation, because of this problem Cops are carrying Narcan and you can buy it over the Counter.

Finally, just get the Tests you need and TONS of DOCUMENTATION. MRI's CT's, X-RAYS of all sorts... play the game and if you don't like one Pain Clinic go to another one.

If your Regular Doctor sees that you are making every attempt, they may very well take over your Pain Mangment Treatment along with your other. It's what happened to me. Good Luck

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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