9 answers

Two patients enter to seek treatment from you at the same time. One of them is rich, and the other is poor. Provide the different circumstances in which you would treat either patient first, and why.


While this question is probably answerable by those who are not in the medical profession, I think that perhaps those who are experienced would be able to provide me with a different perspective. #medicine #medical #medical-education #emergency-medicine #family-medicine #doctors-assistant #medical-practice

9 answers

Rachel’s Answer

As others have said, in an emergency situation we treat whoever is the sickest first. If it is not an emergency then it is first come, first served. The patient's financial situation does not factor into the timeliness or quality of care that we provide. No one is turned away from an emergency room based on their ability to pay.

We always strive to give the best care, but that COULD vary from person to person based on finances. If I have a long term relationship with a patient then I will be aware of their financial/insurance status, and I will work with their insurance company and the patient themselves to come up with a plan that works best for them. For example, this might mean that I might have to choose drug B instead of the newer drug A if insurance doesn't cover drug A. We work within our current system to provide the best possible situation for each individual.

Yi’s Answer

Probably I would not know who is rich or poor. We have to focus on the medical relevant issue first. Is the patient clinically stable? Is there any sign of life-threatening complications? What are the critical labs? We have social workers or coordinators who deals with financial issues like insurance.

Martha Cecile’s Answer

Updated Denton, Texas
I find that taking care of the underserved is what real doctoring is about. Instead of wanting "a pill for every ill", my patients with limited means respond excellently to education (e.g., how to live life well, to ward away diabetes, hypertension, GERD, OSA, obesity, etc.). Since 90% of illnesses and deaths are due to lifestyle diseases, how smart it is for people to be hungry for the information that can make them and their children healthy, instead of saying, "Just give me the prescription" (since they can't pay for it, anyway). Never had a wealthy person lose weight and cure their diabetes, but I've had plenty of poor people do that!

Andredell’s Answer

Updated Cumberland, Maryland

Jessica, The patient with the most life threatening condition is treated first as they are in the most danger of losing their life. The patients financial state or status has no role in their treatment. If there is no immediate life threatening injury or illness then I would go to the illness with the most potential to cause an unstable patient as evidenced by multiple things (vital signs, physical signs, etc) . If that is not the case then you go to whomever arrived first . I hope this helps.

WADDAH’s Answer

Updated Sanford, Florida

The first question that come up when seeing patients is: is there a life threatening condition? If there is is,then you see this patient first regardless of their financial situation.

the second question you need to answer is : who arrived first. you will need to see that patient first.

If you like to pamper your wealthy patients, that is fine. but you should keep those basic questions in mind if you want to run a good medical practice.

Candace’s Answer

Updated Austin, Texas

Rich or poor, you treat both patients based on their condition and what is required to adequately treat their condition. You should provide all patients with the standard of care. If both patients presented with non urgent conditions then you would treat the one that arrived first. However, if one of the patients, based on their condition, required immediate attention, they would be treated immediately no matter when they arrived.

Nancy’s Answer


It is the same in mental health. Identify whether one patient or another is at risk of harming him/herself or others. This sort of triage happens in emergency rooms and on crisis telephone services. Finances don't factor in in those cases.

Andria’s Answer

Updated Woodbridge Township, New Jersey

There should be no money involved in this situation. it should be who needs the most immediate care. I would hope this world would not treat someone with a sore throat because they are rich and leave a poor person in the waiting room who is having a heartattack. My daughter is going to school to be a nurse and is almost done with school and her answer would ALWAYS be who is more critical to help now?

Kim’s Answer

Updated San Antonio, Texas


I don't know how things are done in Singapore. Here in the US, patients are "triaged." Those who need urgent care are seen first. Those with less urgent situations will wait. If both patients have the same level of need, then the one who arrived first is seen first.

It's done the same way here, thanks! :)