What legal action can be taken against a doctor who tested someone for drugs without their consent?

UPDATED: May 30, 2011

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What legal action can be taken against a doctor who tested someone for drugs without their consent?

My daughter got sick. She didn’t have a doctor and so picked one out of the phone book. She was given a urine test which she assumed was to check for infection. Later she got a $900 bill from a lab for drug-testing. She had not been told that she was being tested for drugs and had not been told her urine sample was being sent to a lab. She tells me that the nurse/tech kept asking her whether she did drugs, and that she kept saying no she didn’t. Also, is it legal to make her pay for a test she did was not even aware of? Now what?

Asked on May 30, 2011 under Malpractice Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There is no simple answer, since it depends on what exactly was said by or to your daughter, what she did authorize to be done, and what paperwork she did. For example: if she was a new patient of this doctor, the doctor probably did a much more thorough initial screening, work-up, or evaluation. If your daughter either signed forms indicating that the doctor could perform thorough "new patient" testing, or your daughter gave consent to the test(s)--even if she did not quite think through or understand all the costs--then the bill is probably proper. On the other hand, if your daughter in no way consented to the tests that were done, not even as part of  a global "yes, you can do the tests you think are necessary to treat me" (or the equivalent), then she might have grounds to contest paying for it or (more likely) seek reimbursement from the doctor's office. However, since doing so could involve litigation, which has its own costs, it's not clear that it would be worthwhile doing so.

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