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Jess W.





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

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8 answers


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.

Last updated Apr 01 '17 at 15:11

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.

Last updated May 06 '17 at 09:46

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?

Last updated May 10 '17 at 17:30

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.

Last updated Apr 03 '17 at 07:18

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.

Last updated Apr 02 '17 at 15:26
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!
Last updated Sep 25 '17 at 23:32
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.
Last updated Aug 25 '17 at 13:33

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.

Last updated Apr 12 '17 at 06:43
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