Do I have a case for medical malpractice regarding being dropped by my pain management doctor?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I have a case for medical malpractice regarding being dropped by my pain management doctor?

I was seeing a pain management doctor for 12 years for injuries related to a spinal cord injury that I suffered 14 years ago. I was on very high doses of opiate medication, Fentanyl 100 micrograms, every 2 days and I was also prescribed Percocet 10 milligrams, a 180 tablets, a month. I had been on this medication regimen for over a decade. Then, almost 2 years ago, I received a certified letter stating that the doctor was discharging me from his practice due to a violation in the pain contract that I had signed with his office over 8 years ago. What happened was that I got sick with pneumonia and I was treated by my PCP. The PCP was aware that I was being treated by a pain management doctor because I had to get a referral from her a few months prior for insurance purposes. However, she wrote me a prescription for Promethazine/Codeine for treatment of a horrible cough that I was having. I was completely unaware that this was a violation of my pain contract since I only signed one contract with the pain doctor 8 years prior. I brought the bottle with me to my appointment with my pain doctor and I gave it to the staff so that they could document it in my chart for when I had to submit a urine sample. As expected, my urine came back to have metabolites of the cough medication in my system and because of this I was discharged with a 1 month supply of my medication and told to find another doctor. Needless to say, I have been unable to find another doctor who will even agree to see me as a patien, and almost 2 years has gone by. I have suffered immensely from this and I see no end in sight. I endured horrible effects from withdrawals from the high doses of opiates that I had been taking for 12 years. I lost over 50 pounds and was severely underweight an malnourished. No one could help me. I am living in pain every day of my life and have had to resort to attending a methadone clinic for administration of medication for pain because I can’t even be seen by another pain management doctor. I have contacted no less than 15-20 doctors and been turned down. This kind of treatment is barbaric to me and I feel like someone should be held accountable for my drastic decline in health and the poor living conditions that I am forced to deal with on a daily basis. I need to have surgery in relation to my condition but without the ability to be treated for pain, I simply cannot do it. However, if I do not have surgery I am risking more permanent paralysis than I already have and possibly even a worse outcome. Do I have a case here?

Asked on May 21, 2019 under Malpractice Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you do not have a case. You write that you did violate the pain contract: that is grounds for the doctor to stop seeing or treating you, since you did not follow critical instructions which you were provided and agreed to. Among other things, by not following those instructions, you exposed the doctor to liability: if you were injured or harmed when taking powerful medicines/drugs they prescribed, then even though the harm came about from your own noncompliance, you could have tried suing them, claiming that they had overprescribed, or where not monitoring you propertly, etc. Once you failed to comply with the contract, you showed the doctor you were a liability risk to them, and they are not required to expose themself to liability on your behalf.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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