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Friday
Jan092009

Free care a moral obligation for cosmetic medicine?

Via Kevin MDs post:

Two lawyers write an article in JAMA, saying that it's the physician's moral obligation to give free care. They seem immune to the financial pressures doctors face, and as lawyers, really are not in a place to lecture:

Ludwig and Nestle adopt a scolding tone to physicians that ask for immediate co-payments and attempt to collect on overdue bills. The authors site the AMA’s ethical opinion that urges 'compassion and discretion in hardship cases.'

This brings up an interesting point; is there a moral oblication for plastic surgeons and dermatologists to preform free or lower priced treatmens for those unable to pay retail?

It's been my experience that cosmetic preactices to NOT do this as a rule. (There are a number of plastic surgoeons and dermatologists I know that travel to third world countries but I'm not counting that for this meaning. In fact, my former physician parther was oddly against any type of discount in this area.)

If you're a physician, I'd be currious to learn why you either offer or refuse to offer free care for patients who are unable to pay.

Reader Comments (1)

As a plastic surgeon, I've given free (uncompensated) care to many uninsured people in the ER over the years. I've donated reconstructive surgeries to cancer patients who are financially strapped. And I'm happy to do that, from time to time, at my own discretion.

But, you can't tell me with a straight face, that it is my "moral obligation" to do a breast augmentation or give a wrinkle treatment on someone who can't afford / won't / doesn't want to pay full price - that's not going to fly. It would be difficult to make a case for a moral obligation for purely cosmetic treatments - I think that's a clear exception to the rule.

01.12 | Unregistered CommenterTF

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