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Physician Rights and Responsibilities

Refusal to Serve a Class of Patients

The WSMA upholds that the ethical physician shall not refuse treatment to any class of patients based solely on their race, religion, sex, or national origin. The choice of patients is left up to the individual physician and vice versa provided there is not neglect or abandonment. However, it is unethical for an individual physician or a group of physicians to refuse to serve a class of patients, per se.

The WSMA believes that there is no ethical restraint on individual physicians or groups of physicians pointing out to directors of programs, such as Medicaid, that program restrictions (substandard fees, restrictions on services, etc.) have an inevitable effect on the choice of patients made by the individual physician. However, pronouncements by an individual physician or by a group of patients would be unethical. (JC 9.07-87) (Reaffirmed A-17)

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Abbreviations for House of Delegates report origination:

EC – Executive Committee; BT – Board of Trustees; CPA – Council on Professional Affairs; JC – Judicial Council; CHS – Community and Health Services

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