Is it legal for a doctor, that you are already established with, to refuse doing surgery just because you smoke?

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Is it legal for a doctor, that you are already established with, to refuse doing surgery just because you smoke?

I have spurs on the back of the heels, the doctor removed the spur on my left foot, today he refused to do the right foot until I quit smoking. He knew I smoked from the beginning. What rights do I have on this matter.

Asked on August 28, 2012 under Malpractice Law, Florida

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

State laws differ in how they treat medical malpractice issues.  Your doctor's behavior might constitute abandonment under some state's law, but I doubt it.  The procedure you describe is an elective procedure, not an emergency.  Doctors are not required to perform elective procedures and can decline to do so for just about any reason.  In addition. the remedy for malpractice is money damages and, in most states, the patient must take reasonable steps to mitigate damages.  In your case, this would mean you have an obligation to find another doctor.

You may not fully understand the impact that smoking has on surgical sites.  I started my career as a pharmacist and have represented patients in medical malpractice cases for 30 years.  Medical evidence is conclusive that smoking inhibits blood circulation and wound healing.  The heel is an area that does not get abundant blood circulation in the best of circumstances, and the skin is very thin.  Smoking can increase your risks of infection and poor wound healing quite significantly.  If you want to see what I am talking about, Google "heel ulcers" and look at the pictures.  The ulcers you will see were caused by lots of things, but they all have diminished circulation as a component. This doctor may really be trying to help you.


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