American Journal of Bioethics.

Ethical and Professional Considerations Providing Medical Evaluation and Care to Refugee Asylum Seekers

A significant number of asylum seekers who largely survived torture live in the United States. Asylum seekers have complex social and medical problems with significant barriers to health care access. When evaluating and providing care for survivors, health providers face important challenges regarding medical ethics and professional codes. We review ethical concerns in regard to accountability, the patient–physician relationship, and moral responsibilities to offer health care irrespective of patient legal status; competing professional responsibility toward society and the judiciary system; concerns about the consistency of asylum seekers’ claims; ethical concerns surrounding involving trainees and researching within the evaluation setting; and the implication of broader societal views towards rights and social justice. We discuss contributing factors, including inadequate and insufficient provider training, varying and inadequate institutional commitment, asylum seekers’ significant medical and social problems, and the broader health and social system issues. We review existing resources to address these concerns and offer suggestions.

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Volume 13, Issue 7
July 2013