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FACT CHECK: Can a doctor choose not to treat a rude patient?




A doctor can choose not to treat a rude patient


A doctor can choose not to treat a patient if the patient is unruly and refusing treatment or there is a threat /bodily harm against the doctor if the treatment proceeds. In such instances, the doctor will have to wait till adequate security is provided or handover the patient to another doctor to avoid any biases.

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The debate was stirred by a twitter user responding to allegations of how a pregnant woman in labour was neglected in a hospital at Lekki and eventually had a dead baby. While the initial tweet claimed the hospital said they did not treat the lady because she was rude. The user who responded said doctors have a right to refuse a patient treatment if they are rude as it is written in the medical book of practice.

In his words; “A doctor has the right to refuse to treat a patient if they are rude. It’s in the code of conduct of medical practice.

“Some of you think it is your right to be stupid when you visit the hospital. I will work you and your papa out”.


Ripples Nigeria researched the National Health Act 2014 and found that in Part III, Section 21(3) health care providers have the right to refuse a patient who is physically, verbally abusive or sexually harasses the health care provider and in such scenarios, the case must be reported to appropriate authority.

Read also: FACT CHECK: Does 5G cause Covid-19 pandemic and increase death rate?

This paragraph was further explained by a few doctors contacted by the Newspaper including Dr AbdulQuadri Idrisu, the North Central leader of the National Association of Resident Doctors who said being rude to a doctor is an ambiguous term.

However, “being unruly and refusing treatment given to the patient can force the doctor to make the decision of refusing to continue treatment on such a patient. Also, anything that will cause bodily harm or threat to the live of the doctor or other health care providers will force the hand of those on duty to refuse treatment and call for adequate security before resuming the treatment again.

Relating the term rude to a pregnant woman: “A woman in Labour is mostly not in a completely sane mind and they are not always in the hospital by themselves, a relative is always with them. If such a patient is refusing treatment, the best the doctor can do is to inform the relative and If the relative agrees that the wishes of the pregnant woman be respected, the doctor has to back down, otherwise, the doctor has to look for other means around and ensure that the patient does not endanger the lives of another person, especially the unborn.

Dr Yemi, another doctor who spoke to Ripples Nigeria on the term rude and refusing treatment on patient added that doctors or health care providers can still refuse treatment even after the initial misunderstanding has been resolved to avoid bias and removing any doubt on the treatment about to be provided.

FACT CHECK: Can a doctor choose not to treat a rude patient? FACT CHECK: Can a doctor choose not to treat a rude patient?

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