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Acute Medical Care

Physicians have an obligation to ensure that children are not deprived of medical care for financial reasons. Ethically, children are entitled to special consideration because of their dependent status. Legally, it is risky to turn away a child in need of care because of the volatility of childhood diseases. A simple case of diarrhea can prove fatal quickly in an infant. The delay that is attendant upon being refused care without a proper referral to a physician willing to care for the child may prove fatal. A physician must never allow a child to be turned away from a hospital or emergency room because the parents do not have money or insurance. If there is an ongoing physician-patient relationship, the physician must be the child's advocate and demand care. Payment issues between the parents and the hospital should not be allowed to interfere with medical care. A physician who is not willing to insist on proper hospital care may violate federal laws governing the provision of emergency medical care. (see Chapter 32.)

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