The statement tries to convey the message that a doctor must not focus on treating only individual patients but also consider other people of society. On average, a doctor sees 15-20 patients every day. This figure obviously varies depending on the location and time of the year. The doctor cannot afford to care for only one patient per day. They have the responsibility to care for many others and hence, need to consider time management. This statement can also refer to the resources available for patients. For example, a limited number of organs can cause confusion amongst the medical staff as to which patient needs the organ more.
On the contrary, some may say that a doctor should only focus on the patient they are caring for at that particular time. They need to work in the best interests of the patient. It would be unethical to deny treatment to a patient because of the needs of other members of society.
An example of this is treating criminals who have committed serious crimes such as murders. Society would not want such people to receive treatment as those resources could be used to treat innocent people. On the other hand, a doctor needs to consider the principles of beneficence and non-maleficence. They cannot let a patient suffer in pain if treatments are available.
Another ethical situation is treating a patient who is bound to die soon. Should such patients be given life support and medications when a patient who has a higher chance of surviving can be treated using that life support system and those medications? There are many ethical questions such as these which a doctor must consider. Some may argue that even though a patient has a high chance of not surviving, they have the right to treatment and medications until their death. On the other hand, some may argue that the patient who has a much higher chance of surviving needs to be treated quickly to ensure that they survive.
To conclude, a physician must consider many legal and ethical aspects of treatments before providing them to patients. They must take into account the desires and wishes of the patient to provide effective treatments with minimal wastage of resources.