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Hastings Cent Rep. 1985 Aug;15(4):16-8.

Adam Smith in the emergency room.



Annas fears that efforts to control health care costs will erode the traditional ethic that hospitals have an obligation to provide emergency care to anyone, regardless of ability to pay. He characterizes emergency patients as falling midway between "statistical" and "identified" lives--we do not know who they will be, but turning them down risks the life of a specific person. After discussing the legal and moral obligations of hospitals and physicians to provide emergency care, he makes three suggestions: that professional associations reaffirm the ethical requirement to assist anyone needing emergency care; that the states define "emergency" broadly and add criminal penalties for hospitals and physicians that refuse such services; and that uninsured persons be encouraged to carry cards, similar to those used by Legal Services of Middle Tennessee, requiring a physician's signature and explanation if the patient is rejected for emergency treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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