What is our stance on questions on ethics? Are they on-topic or off-topic?

Example (almost the same as Law and Ethics - Refusing to treat intoxicated patients, just removing the legal side):

I am a third year nursing student, currently writing an assignment on Ethics, particularly refusing to treat intoxicated patients.

I am looking for case studies relating to health professionals refusing to treat intoxicated patients.

influencing factors I have found are:

  • Duty of care Capacity and consent
  • Mental Health
  • Calming the patient
  • Hospital Security
  • Sedation to prevent harm to themselves or others

The question I am looking to answer is, is it ethical for a health professional to refuse to treat an intoxicated patient or would a refusal of treatment always be seen as negligence? All the research I have carried out so far has given me no definitive answers.

1 Answer 1


There's nothing in the help center that makes questions like that off topic, and it is clearly relevant to both health providers and patients, so it should default to being on topic.

A question like that can involve purely legal aspects which would be off topic here. For example, if the OP had asked if it's legal to refuse treatment, then that would make it off topic since answering that requires specific legal knowledge. In that case we should refer them to Legal.SE. But any medical provider is expected to have an understanding of general medical ethics, and patients have a vested interest in what those ethical boundaries are, so I think those things plus the lack of a specific prohibition combine to make it on topic.

As a general rule, I think we need to be able to cite a specific reason why a question is off topic in order to close it as such.

Besides, if we're going to call that off topic, what about the questions such as med school requirements that we have allowed in the past? Those are far more tangential to medicine than this one was.


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