Ethics. Research. Community.

Are physicians obligated to treat indigent patients?

Texas medicine. 
[Record Source: PubMed]
Are physicians obligated to treat indigent patients? Three possible responses to this question are examined: (1) "No! Health care is the property of the physician to sell as he or she sees fit"; (2) "Yes, out of charity"; and (3) "Yes, out of justice." The first response is shown to be indefensible on the basis of an analysis of natural rights to property and freedom. The second response is defensible but applies only at the microlevel of the patient-physician relationship. Thus, physicians are obligated to care for indigent patients to some reasonable degree. The third response is defensible and applies at the macrolevel of public policy. Physicians are obligated to play a crucial role at this level--a role that has been largely neglected.
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