Patient says he was denied treatment at CHUM hospital for not speaking French

Zbigniew Malysa, a Polish Canadian, says he was belittled and then ignored by a urologist a at the CHUM superhospital for not knowing French. Image Source: CBC


Zbigniew Malysa says urologist refused to speak to him, threw medical forms in the garbage

A Montreal man has filed a complaint with the ombudsman of the city’s new French-language superhospital, claiming he was denied treatment because he couldn’t speak French.

Zbigniew Malysa, a Canadian citizen who emigrated from Poland more than 30 years ago, says a urologist refused to speak to him and belittled him in front of two medical residents.

“I didn’t believe what happened. I was thinking maybe I’m dreaming,” Malysa said, adding that he also plans to file a complaint to Quebec’s College of Physicians.

He told CBC that the incident happened Wednesday, when he went to the CHUM hospital in downtown Montreal to see urologist Dr. Luc Valiquette.

Malysa was referred to the CHUM by his doctor because he had high blood pressure and elevated creatinine levels.

Malysa said he was first seen by two residents, who spoke to him in English and gave him a form ordering a colonoscopy.

Malysa claims Valiquette then came into the room, furious.

“He didn’t speak any word to me,” Malysa said. “He said, ‘How long you are in Quebec?…The East Europeans take advantage of our health system here.’ I was completely confused. I didn’t take any advantage. I have serious problems with very high blood pressure and some blood in my urine the doctor said to me I have to check this.”

Malysa said he never got his urine test or any other treatment, adding that the doctor also yelled at the residents for prescribing a colonoscopy, ripped up the form and threw it in the garbage.

“He mentioned, ‘We don’t have money for the East Europeans’ in French. I’m not speaking fluently French but I understand much more than I can speak. It was not rocket science.”

‘A terrible misunderstanding,’ doctor says

The CHUM says its complaints department is looking into the matter.

In a statement sent to CBC Thursday afternoon, the hospital said staff does its best to accommodate patients who don’t speak French, but points out the CHUM is not obliged to provide all services in English.

“On a daily basis, frontline workers, staff and doctors at the CHUM strive to accommodate patients whose mother tongue is not French to the best of their abilities,” the statement said. “However, it must be understood that the CHUM is not part of the public institutions designated in the health care system to offer all of its services in English.”

The statement also went on to say that Dr. Valiquette claims it was all “a terrible misunderstanding” and he will be calling Malysa.

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