After injuring my foot and going to the emergency room, the physician on duty said I fractured my heel. He said he was going to put my foot in a cast and see how it healed. He sent me home and said to call for a follow up visit in a couple of weeks. On my return visit, he said my foot was healing nicely, and said the same on my next visit.
With ample time for my foot to heal, I was still having problems walking with limited movement, unable to kneel down at all and constant moderate to severe pain, especially after the doctor took me off my pain medicine (saying I didn’t need it anymore).
After explaining I was still having problems and lots of pain, I asked him what the problem was. He told me that my heel did need surgery when I fractured it, but he did not do surgery because I smoked cigarettes! He said with me being a smoker, if he had performed surgery, I most likely would have lost my foot.
He said I was released to go back to work and would have to live with my discomfort. I asked him if I would ever walk normal again and he said not without surgery. He told me if I quit smoking for about three months, I could come back and he might refer me to another surgeon, and that was all he was going to do for me!
Do I have any legal rights to do anything about this?
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.
Our research shows nicotine causes blood vessel constriction which reduces blood supply to the skin and organs. Although smoking can cause blood flow restriction, the effects of smoking and subsequent healing times hasn’t been clinically proven.
When a person smokes his white blood cells are lessened and as a result have a difficult time fighting bacteria which could lead to infection. Although this information is well known to surgeons, we haven’t been able to find any examples of surgeons refusing to do foot surgery on a patient who smoked.
Saying he chose not to perform surgery because your smoking would have caused you to lose your foot is rather a stretch. A doctor has a right to decide not to perform surgery if he believes doing so would harm the patient. Maybe you should have sought a second opinion.
If you can find a surgeon who will support your position that the first surgeon’s refusal to operate because of your smoking was unfounded, you will have found the right surgeon for you. Absent any proof the original surgeon’s actions harmed you, it will be very difficult for you to have any claim against him.
Learn more here: Recourse for Medical Treatment Denial
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.
Best of luck with your claim,
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