Scores of Russian and Ukrainian media featured a story last week about a Kyiv doctor who “refused to operate on a patient from Donbas” for political reasons. The headlines in particular focused on where the patient in question came from, but not on the actual reason why the doctor refused to perform the operation.

Website screenshot
Website screenshot

Money stinks, A Ukrainian Hippocratic Oath, no medical service for political reasons, are just some of the headlines Russian sites were ablaze with.

RIA Novosti, Russia’s Defense Ministry television channel Zvezda, Donbass UA, Russkaya Vesna, Kievskyi Express and many others disseminated this manipulative story.

The source of the hullabaloo was a Facebook post by Dr. Dmytro Kozlov, a surgeon who wrote that for the first time in his 17 years of surgical practice he refused to treat a patient for political reasons. A 50-year old businesswoman from Donetsk wanted to have liposuction. According to Kozlov, before anesthesia was administered the woman began complaining about how horrible Ukrainians were, how “the genocide Ukrainian military were conducting in the Donbas” and how the Russian world was the best of all possible things”.

Liposuction removes some of the excess fat from overweight people unable to control their appetite. It is usually done, as in this case, for vanity reasons rather than urgent health reasons.

Kozlov wrote that all pre-op procedures were stopped, all the patient’s money was returned to her and she went back home. Liposuction is not an operation that is vital and I did not violate the Hippocratic oath, I don’t know how others feel, but for me money does smell, he posted on Facebook.

Screenshot @DmitryKozlov

Based on information on Dr.Kozlov’s Facebook page, he served as the head of a military medical team in the war in the eastern Ukraine from 2014-2015 and was awarded the “Honor. Glory. State” medal for his performance.

According to Ukraine’s Constitution and the country’s Medical ethics code, a doctor has the right to refuse treatment when  he understands that he is not competent to handle a specific case, when the doctor does not have the equipment to treat the patient, and also when there is no trust between the patient and the doctor.