Can anER doctor legally threaten to not treat a patient ifthe patientdoesn’t apologize forbehavior of which they are unaware ofdue to their medical condition?

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Can anER doctor legally threaten to not treat a patient ifthe patientdoesn’t apologize forbehavior of which they are unaware ofdue to their medical condition?

I recently went to the emergency room for chest pain. My heart rate was intense, way above normal, and I was being monitored closely to ensure that I wouldn’t have a seizure or something. The doctor threatened to leave me suffering with pain and walk out if I didn’t “start showing some respect” to him; however, I was blacking out at the time, and was not aware to whom I was even speaking or what I was even saying. He threatened to leave several times until I gave an acceptable apology, which was difficult. I did beg him and was promptly given morphine. I had no choice. Was it legal?

Asked on November 27, 2010 under Malpractice Law, Missouri

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

No, a physician can not behave that way while attending to a person's health and especially in anemergency room situation.  I am unclear, though, as to what you are looking for as a result of this matter.  Do you want an apology? Then do this: call the hospital and ask to speak with whomever is in charge of him as well as the Patient Relations liason for the hospital.  There is always someone in charge to make sure that patients are treated properly.  Explain what happened in the emergency room and explain that you feel that this doctor placed your life in jeopardy.  If you are looking to sue then you have to have some form of damages here and it would be best to consult with an attorney in your area.  Good luck.


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