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Trisha Torrey

Reader Reports Blacklisting - But What About the Missing Link?

By January 17, 2013

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I heard recently from a woman (I'll call her Madeline) who is absolutely positive she has been blacklisted (denied care, refused treatment) by every doctor in the United States.

See what you think:

According to Madeline, she has been sick for a long time with multiple illnesses. She is a woman in her 70s, was told she had a terminal disease 20 years ago, but "I'm still here." She has been unhappy with her healthcare for a very long time, and knowing she received a terminal diagnosis that must have been very wrong, we can probably understand why. (I totally understand why.)

During the past several years, Madeleine has tried to no avail to make appointments with all kinds of doctors. She says none will make an appointment with her. That's how she knows she has been blacklisted.

She contacted me because she wanted me to know about blacklists, and the fact that some patients are being refused treatment. What Madeleine, who rarely (never?) goes online, didn't realize is that blacklisting is a topic I've covered for a long time. Not only have I written about blacklisting, and the reasons doctors turn patients away, but I've also invited you to write about the ways you have been denied care.

I was hoping Madeleine was going to help me figure out the missing link - that is - the list of patients who doctors refuse to see, and how doctors know about the list, and gain access to it. There used to be a website called "Doctors Know Us" that provided that information, but it was taken offline several years ago. Since then I have not had a definitive answer on how blacklisting works.

So I ask you - can you help with that part?

Here's the truth - I do not doubt that such lists of patients exist. And I'm sure Madeleine is being denied care. There are many reasons doctors give for denying care (see the link below) - and some doctors want to warn their colleagues against working with those patients. I won't pass judgment in this post about how ethical that may, or may not, be... just that I'm sure such lists exist.

But where are they? Who holds them? How do doctors access them? Do you know?

Read about the many ways patients can be a pain in a doctor's backside.

Read about how and why patient blacklisting exists.

Read stories from others about the ways they were denied care.

Share your own story of care denials and/or blacklisting.

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Agree? Disagree?
Share your experience or join the conversation!


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Photo istockphoto.com

January 17, 2013 at 2:55 pm
(1) gemdiamondintherough says:

Hi Torrey,
I do NOT have the answer, but I am certain that this type of thing does travel by word of mouth. At least if the professionals were thinking, they would be very careful about documenting this type of list.
Although I know that in the ER’s they keep lists of “frequent flyers” that request pain medication. I understand the concept from the medical standpoint, however, sometimes they are missing pieces of the puzzle. There are some people that are not actually drug seekers, but due to other circumstances in their life, (that you may or may not agree with) then end up in the ER, looking for their pain med.
It is sad to say this, but there are many good professionals out there. But when they get a “difficult” patient, it becomes easy to not provide care, because they seem to have such little personal, face to face time with patients.
Patients do need to be educated sometimes and this is where perhaps sometimes we fail.
If you can utilize multiple avenues to educate a patient, they will be an easier patient to handle.
Then there is the other side of the coin. Professionals, please remember that your GREATEST diagnostic tool is LISTENING!

January 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm
(2) gemdiamondintherough says:

Hi Trish,
I apologize – my brain must have been on pause! I guess both of your names start with the same letter and the files in my head got confused!

January 17, 2013 at 11:54 pm
(3) Glo says:

This is a great site re: blacklisting


Sadly the system is set up to protect doctors not patients
There are no lists anymore
If there was a large error and not reported by patient, chances ar it will be blamed on the patient in the medical records.

January 18, 2013 at 12:34 am
(4) Ivytx says:

In small towns, I think the list is mostly conveyed by ‘word of mouth’ between physicians & pharmacists, HIPAA notwithstanding…perhaps that’s how it works in larger towns also. Approx. 25 yrs ago, in a small town in a southern state, while working in a small hospital, I was in a medical staff meeting at the hospital. One physician asked a ‘hypothetical’ question to gather opiniions from his peers, and before the conversation was completed, everyone in the room, clinical and non-clinical had determined the patient being described, even though a name was never mentioned. This particular patient was well-known in the town due to her extreme idiosyncrasies, and her imagined ailments…and
none of the physicians within the city limits wanted to see her any longer because she was ‘difficult’. After 30+ years in the medical field and having ran a

January 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm
(5) Dee says:

Doctor’s operate within a non published system similar to a police department’s blue line or wall. The assumption is made as a consensus that the patient, not the other doctor is wrong. Patients are “blacklisted” or rather “whitelisted” often by their reasoning for seeing another doctor–second opinion, type of injury/illness, etc.–especially if that might reflect badly on the profession (malpractice, ethical violations). Like many witnesses of a crime, doctor’s assume that the patient is the problem and they don’t want to get involved in something that may reflect badly on the profession or them.

In a recent advocacy case, a women in her 30′s was told by the doctor (one her mother had seen for years, so she went to him) after excessive bleeding for months that she had no choice but to have a hysterectomy. She was heartbroken because she was not in a relationships but she wanted children. She came to me because, in our small community, she wanted a second opinion and couldn’t get another doctor to see her. Her mother became angry with her for questioning the original doctor and so, going out of town became to much stress–not covered by her insurance–and unable to self-pay. I finally got her into another doctor but, without examining her, told her that the first doctor was correct and she needed to do what he said. Although, based on her medical file which I obtained, I did not agree that all necessary and available testing and resources had been done, she “gave up” an had the procedure.

After the removal of everything (total hysterectomy), a tear was found inside the uterus that could have been repaired with modern surgical techniques and would have (probably) been detected with certain tests. This woman’s reproductive system could have been saved.

June 19, 2013 at 3:01 am
(6) aboutblacklista says:

Physicians lawyers have the blacklists. They call it risk management. Their lawyers advise them to do not diagnose patients who have been involved in any kind of lawsuit. According to their lawyers, these patients are too risky to treat. By not diagnosing these patients, the physician can argue they made a mistake that is difficult to sue over. The problem is that’s criminal defamation, falsifying medical records and negligent care but it’s difficult to prove.

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