Suppose a man commits a hate crime against (Hypothetical Church), and in the midst of the crime, the man is critically wounded by the police and rushed to the hospital.

Suppose there is only one doctor there, and that doctor has the ability the save the man. But that doctor has a lot of friends in (Hypothetical Church) and is aware of the man's crime.

Would it be illegal for the doctor to refuse to treat the man and let him die?

I realize there could be other consequences (possibly getting fired or losing a medical license), but I am mainly asking if it is illegal. (United States)

  • If you are at a publicly funded hospital you must be treated in an emergency, if you are at a private hospital then no.
    – Putvi
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 19:51
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    Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 18:49

1 Answer 1


The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act is a federal law which requires that a hospital emergency department to provide a medical screening examination, if the hospital accepts Medicare payments (therefore, nearly all hospitals). This imposes an obligation on the hospital and not the individual doctor; it also does not require full treatment per se, instead it requires stabilization or informed consent of the patient before transfer or discharge.

  • (d)(1)(B) does impose an obligation on physicians. It literally says so.
    – MSalters
    Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 20:04

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