The most common reason for refusing to accept a patient is the patient’s
potential inability to pay for the necessary medical services. Patients should be
given some indication of the financial requirements when they make an
appointment for treatment to prevent them from delaying making other
arrangements for care while waiting for an appointment at which they will
receive no treatment. A defensible decision not to accept a patient for financial
reasons can appear questionable in retrospect if the person was injured by the
subsequent delay in receiving medical care.
Some physicians will not treat certain individuals or classes of patients. Perhaps
the most common restriction is refusing to treat patients involved in accidents
that will lead to litigation. Some physicians refuse to treat attorneys. Many
obstetricians refuse to treat a pregnant woman who first seeks care after the
sixth month of pregnancy. These decisions are shortsighted in a competitive
market and ethically questionable in a market where they may make it difficult
for the affected persons to obtain care; but they are not illegal.