Can a doctor deny me my continuing treatment because my case was sent to collections?

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Can a doctor deny me my continuing treatment because my case was sent to collections?

I have been seeing an ear, nose and throat specialist for over a year for my complicated inner ear issues. She put in tubes last year. I believe one of them is hanging half our of the eardrum and is infected. I called to schedule a follow up and she would not allow me to schedule because my account was moved to collections. I was laid off several months ago. Is this legal for her deny treatment?

Asked on January 26, 2012 under Malpractice Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal for her to deny you medical treatment. A doctor is not a charity, but a business; the law does not require doctors in private practice to see patients who cannot or will not pay them. The fact that you already owe her money means that she does not need to treat you. You should look into whether you qualify for any subsidized care (e.g. Medicaid) due to your income situation; or if it's a true emergency situation, you may be able to get treatment at a public hospital's emergency room, though they will try to bill you after the fact.


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