This is a strange question. A few years ago I was a victim of a crime and I had been feeling bad about it. I go to University and once was told it's a good idea to make use of the counselors there while they're free. I went to see a counselor who said he thinks I have autism as I've been perseverating over a past event and seemed to not be doing well socially (for example when he asked me if I had any romantic interests, "I didn't clearly answer the question"). He told me to seek one of the university psychiatrists.

I tried, but found out the psychiatrists weren't comfortable with diagnosing adult autism because they hadn't done it in a while.

Is it legal for a doctor not to see someone because they don't feal skilled enough to help them (in an area they're supposed to be)? Is it legal for a psychiatrist to not see someone who thinks they may have autism? Is it legal for the councillor to make such a stupid statement that I have autism because I don't have a girl friend :P

Just to be clear the psychiatrists did "refuse" to see me as they didn't feel they new how to diagnose autism. I find this hard to believe, isn't that like saying you went to the dentist to have a cavity fixed but he didn't know how to do it (I know this is illegal as a dentist is required to know how to treat, at least basic, cavities in order to hold a dental licence). Autism isn't a rare mental illness so I would guess a psychiatrist needs to know about it to hold his licence?

  • 1
    You may want to look up "duty to treat". In many jurisdictions, doctors have no legal obligation to treat anybody, except in some cases of life threatening emergency. Nov 14 '15 at 5:26
  • @NateEldredge they may have no legal duty to treat, but surely they have an ethical duty to help the patient locate a psychiatrist with expertise in adult autism. It sounds like that hasn't happened.
    – phoog
    Nov 14 '15 at 7:11
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    @jqning in the principle that one who has chosen a profession where the primary purpose is to help people ought also to help those whom they cannot help to find those who can help them.
    – phoog
    Nov 15 '15 at 23:37
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    Two things: there are general dentists that can fix cavities and pull teeth, and then there are specialized dentists who can perform full blown complex surgery. You need to see not only a psychologist to get diagnosed as an adult, but one who specializes in autism. Second thing: Autism is not a mental illness, at least not in Canada and most up-to-date Countries. It's a type of neurological development still being studied, exists as a spectrum and depending on where you land on the spectrum, can be a disability, but not a mental illness.
    – user900
    Nov 17 '15 at 9:38
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    @Sammson I know this because this is what I was told when I inquired about getting myself diagnosed. I could be wrong, I have no authority to back up my assertion.
    – user900
    Nov 18 '15 at 9:35

Doctors are obliged to act in the best interest of their patients. If it would be in your best interest to see another doctor (due to the doctor being out of practice for that particular diagnosis), your current doctor would be obligated to tell you and refuse treatment.

The physician‑patient relationship is fiduciary in nature and certain duties arise from that special relationship of trust and confidence. These include the duties of the doctor to act with utmost good faith and loyalty[.]

MvInerney v. MacDonald

Now, onto your question about the counselors assessment; probably not worth it's weight in salt. They likely have little to no training regarding diagnostic medicine and are by no means an expert.

  • Can you elaborate on how this works given that the doctor(s) are not (yet) in a doctor-patient relationship?
    – Dale M
    Nov 16 '15 at 0:26

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