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Anglophone accuses French-speaking doctor of denying him tests at Montreal hospital

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A 67-year-old man has accused a Montreal doctor of chastising him for not speaking French and denying him important medical tests because the patient asked to communicate in English.

Zbigniew Malysa moved to Canada from Poland more than 20 years ago. He speaks several languages and understands basic French, but asked a urologist at the CHUM Hospital to speak in English.

Instead, Malysa said the doctor mocked him in front of two residents, refused to make eye contact and suggested he was taking advantage of Quebec’s healthcare system.

Malysa also said the doctor made fun of his name and ordered a resident to rip up tests for a urine test and colonoscopy.

“I didn’t believe that it was happening,” Malysa told CTV Montreal.

Malysa visited the hospital Wednesday due to uncontrollable hypertension. He says two female residents spoke to him in English when they took his blood pressure and administered a questionnaire.

He says the mood changed when the doctor arrived. Malysa said the doctor began by cracking jokes about his name and speculating about whether he was born in Russia or Croatia.

“And then finally I said I am from Poland, I was born in Poland. And he said, ‘Oh, Eastern Europe,’ with something — it was disgust,” he said.

Malysa said the doctor ignored him while he continued speaking with the residents. According to Malysa, the doctor only asked him one question in English: “How long in Quebec?”

When Malysa responded that it’s been about 30 years since he moved from Poland, Malysa said the doctor became angrier.

“He was so upset, more upset, and he said to the girls, ‘So many years and he’s not talking French, and they take advantage of the Quebec health care,’” he said.

Malysa’s family has since filed complaints with the Colleges du Medicines du Quebec, CHUM and a human rights group.

His daughter wrote about the experience, calling it “an event I would not believe happened in this day and age.”

“A man like that should not [bear] a medical license if he will play Russian roulette with his patients because they do not speak French. In this day and age discrimination as such should never occur in the health care setting when you are trying to save a life,” wrote Suzie Malysa in a Facebook post, which has since been shared more than 1,300 times.

The doctor told the hospital that the situation was “a terrible misunderstanding and that he would contact the patient and his family shortly,” according to a statement from CHUM.

The hospital said it is looking into the situation.

“On a daily basis staff and doctors at CHUM make the effort to accommodate patients whose mother tongue is not French, to the best of their abilities and a translation service is available as needed,” the hospital said.

“It should be understood however, that CHUM is not one of the establishments in the health and social services network designated to offer all of its services in English.”

With a report from CTV Montreal’s Caroline Van Vlaardingen

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Anglophone accuses French-speaking doctor of denying him tests at Montreal hospital

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