Ethical Issues in Medical Rehabilitation: The Dilemma of Who to Admit

Alan Friedman*, Basil Friedman, Lena Lutzky, Elisha Friedman, Rael D. Strous, Iuly Treger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Ethical allocation of scare medical resources is a ubiquitous challenge in many, if not all, medical specialties. The field of physical medicine and rehabilitation is no exception and presents its own unique dilemmas. We report on a small inpatient rehabilitation unit at a large university medical center with a large catchment area representing a vast range of socioeconomic classes. The decision of whom to admit is a constant challenge. We review the existing literature regarding ethical considerations in rehabilitation department admission criteria and attempt to analyze criteria used to admit patients to a general physical medicine and rehabilitation ward. Finally, we discuss our medical center approach to the ethical dilemma of admission priority. A systemic search was conducted in six sources (PubMed, Google Scholar, ScienceDirect, Cochrane Library, LILACS, Embase). Searches were limited to English language articles with no date restriction, reflecting all available data. A reviewer applied the inclusion criteria to identify relevant articles. This review highlights a number of important ethical issues in evaluation and selection criteria that may assist clinicians in improving selection procedures and standardizing access to inpatient rehabilitation. Further high-quality empirical studies and reviews of ethical admission practice with regard to rehabilitation acceptance are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1168-1174
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Admission Criteria
  • Ethics
  • Rehabilitation


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