If you're refused medical care, what's next?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 03, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My neighbor is a 48 year old women who has lumps under her skin all over. In addition she is in a lot of pain with her foot. She has shown us an X-ray that shows a hole in her ankle bone! It is very scary. She has been to a GP and another doctor who won't help her manage her pain because she had a history of drug abuse. And they have not given her a diagnosis.

She no doubt is in pain and we are trying to encourage her to go out of town either to University Medical Center in Jackson, MS or to Tulane in New Orleans and go in and just say, hey my foot hurts and let them diagnose her. At this point she can hardly walk and we are afraid that she may have cancer of the bone. She usually keeps her yard, garden and flowers immaculate and we are tending to her outdoor work as she can not do it. What would you suggest? Please.

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

I understand that you have concern for your neighbor's health, but I think that there is more going on here than what she is telling you. For her to have 2 different doctors refuse to help her says alot. In the medical profession, you need to have a really good reason to terminate a patient relationship, or you can be fined for patient abandonment.

To be honest, I even don't think her past drug abuse is the only issue. Many times, people who abuse drugs "doctor shop" - which means they go from doctor to doctor seeking pain meds for their habit. Maybe these two doctors have gotten wise to her, and that is why she is no longer seen by them.

Therefore, you should recommend that she finds someone new to see. It is fine for her to go to the University or Tulane, but that is alot of distance for her to go. She should be able to find someone near her that will be able to see her frequently, as it does sound like she has some medical problems that need attention.