Faced with this question, Dr. Domingo Castillo, Medical Director of the Clinical Hospital of the University of Chile, recognizes that it is not an easy subject. But that “the medical profession is not there to define the moral connotation of an act and proceed with that moral connotation. We, as professionals, serve the person who needs help or asks for help, without making an evaluation or weighing of a moral circumstance. Our problem is not that, our problem is who seeks help, who is a patient ”.

Conscientious objection with the patient

However, he explains that in medicine many times there are complicated situations, bordering on certain limits or certain established parameters. Which, generally occur when knowing certain antecedents of a patient. For example, “with people who have committed human rights violations or who have committed crimes of sexual connotation with children,” he explains.

In these types of cases, there are professionals who “request a conscientious objection and what the system or the institution does, or that same person who refuses, is to ensure that someone else treats them, then they are not denied care, I am I personally omit (…) but I believe that it is not appropriate for a health professional to make a moral judgment regarding a person who in a pandemic has a party or who does not want to be vaccinated. It is not appropriate for one to deny attention, which does not mean that I have my opinion on that, but when the moment comes when they put me in another frame that is attention or not attention. I do not have to involve my moral vision in front of the decision ”, it raises.

Doctors cannot refuse to accept a person for ethnic, racial or religious reasons

Doctors do not have unlimited discretion to refuse to accept a person as a new patient. Because so much of medicine is related to federal regulations, doctors cannot refuse to accept a person for ethnic, racial, or religious reasons.


Nor can they discriminate based on the sex of the person, unless the sex of the patient is relevant to the specialty of the doctor. Outside of these protected areas, doctors have great freedom to refuse to accept people as patients.


The most common reason for refusing to accept a patient is the possible inability of the patient to pay for necessary medical services. Patients should be given some indication of financial requirements when making an appointment for treatment to avoid delay in making other arrangements for care while waiting for an appointment where they will not receive treatment.

While it has not been clearly established that making an appointment creates a doctor-patient relationship, it would be difficult to explain to the jury why someone in urgent need of care was turned away after waiting for an appointment. A defensible decision not to accept a patient for financial reasons may seem questionable in hindsight if the person was injured by the subsequent delay in receiving medical care.

Some doctors will not treat certain people or classes of patients.

Perhaps the most common restriction is refusing to treat patients involved in accidents that will lead to litigation. Some doctors refuse to treat lawyers. Many obstetricians refuse to treat a pregnant woman seeking medical care for the first time after the sixth month of pregnancy.

These decisions are shortsighted in a competitive market and ethically questionable in a market where they can make it difficult for affected people to obtain care; but they are not illegal.

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