Can Doctors Refuse to Treat Criminal Patients? Morals and Ethics

When one is considering a career in medicine, questions often arise about treating people you fundamentally disagree with. Can a doctor refuse treatment to a patient who they think is morally not deserving of treatment? For instance, can a doctor refuse to treat a criminal who was injured committing a heinous crime?

Whether you’re a physician with a medical degree from a prestigious university, or someone who got their certification from an RN program online, medical professionals take an oath. That oath holds that they have to give medical attention to anyone in need and never do any harm.

If doctors were allowed to pick and choose their patients, then that would open the door for discrimination. Surgeons could choose not to help black or gay patients. Doctors could choose to not give any attention to people who disagreed with them politically. It would be nightmarish. So, while it sound s counterintuitive, doctors have to give attention even to patients they find morally reprehensible.