If you want to change your family physician, can the new physician refuse to see you after showing up for a scheduled appointment?

My mother’s family physician whom I’ll refer to as Dr. Marie shared a private practice with her husband Dr. Mario. My mother has issues with mobility their office was close to her home. However, Dr. Marie left opened her own office out of town. So my mother stayed with her husband Dr. Mario because his office was so close. After deciding that she preferred the care of Dr. Marie, my mother chose to make the effort to travel to see her as her family physician. My mother made an appointment with Dr. Marie. It was accepted. She arrived at her appointment, was taken into a waiting room. Then Dr. Marie refused to see my mother and was asked to leave. She was told her insurance wouldn’t cover an appointment in the same month as a previous appointment my mother had with Dr. Mario two weeks earlier. My mother said she would pay out of pocket. She was still refused. Is this legal?

Asked on June 13, 2017 under Malpractice Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal in that the law does not require physicians to see an particular individual patient, especially if there is some personal reason to refuse to do so (like the fact that your mother had been using this doctor's husband as a doctor; Dr. Marie can legitimately feel it is inappropriate or would friction with her husband, etc. to see your mother as patient). Remember: doctors are in private business. Like any other business, they can refuse to take clients or customers for any reason which is not illegal discrimation, like racial discrimination.


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