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

UPDATED: Aug 28, 2012

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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


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 10 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.

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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