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Chapter II

Chapter II

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Published by: api-3747282 on Oct 15, 2008
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Chapter II

Human rights are those inalienable rights which transcend political boundaries, ideologies and faiths. Patient\u2019s rights on the other hand are a reflection of these rights. It is where the needs of the people for prompt and just healthcare are met without being constrained by socio-economic, cultural, physical, emotional status and the like. The principle of achieving and attaining the fundamental dignity to achieve equality of all human beings guides the fulfillment of these rights.

The patient\u2019s interest and welfare is the core of the healing relationship. It is fundamental to medical practice. The Hippocratic principle which states that the healer shall act to promote the patient\u2019s interest and well-being and never to do harm are the long-standing guiding rules of the health care profession. To put this fundamental credo into the working language of the health professionals, ethical codes have been articulated over the centuries by differing religious and cultural traditions. (Dunn, 1994)

Both have at their heart certain understandings of the value of the human individual and of his or her right to be treated with dignity and respect. Amnesty International believes that the ethics of the health professions shall reinforce human rights and make health professionals

allies in its campaign for the promotion and protection of basic rights (Dunn, 1994). To achieve this, the medical profession shall have an understanding of the value of the human individual and knowledge of their rights for them to be able to treat these patients with utmost respect and dignity.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been instrumental in enshrining the notion of patients\u2019 rights in international law. This provides a legal and moral ground for the improvement of the standards of care on the basis of the mutual responsibilities of the medical practitioner and the patient towards each other as members of the \u201chuman family.\u201d This is also important in giving guidance on critical social, legal and ethical issues. But there remains a great deal of work to be done to clarify the relationship between human rights and right to health which includes patients\u2019 rights. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR) has designated a Special Rapporteur to provide the organization with reports that examine and clarify the broader relationship between human rights and right to health in recognition of this challenge. This report has been of great importance to the World Health Organization, whose mission is to ensure \u201chealth for all\u201d. Grounding the mission into a fundamental human right which is the right to health is an important milestone, and a great step forward in realizing the organization\u2019s goal (Rosenbaum, 1997).


"Patients have needs, not rights" is a commonly heard response to increased patient rights. In fact, they have both. "Health" and "life" has been the primary values expressed by health care professionals. However, in the wake of rapid development in terms of care and treatment comes reports and alarm signals from hospitals and nursing homes bearing witness to violations of the rights of individuals. Therefore, the need to strengthen and safeguard patient's rights is greater than ever before. (Medicare Center Rights, 1996)

These violations prompt the emergence of patient rights\u2019 legislation. Patient rights legislation has several important functions. To the legally inexperienced, it may be difficult to get an overview of one's rights when it comes to placing demands on the health care system. Bringing over the legislation makes it easier for both patients and health care personnel to do the deed. In addition, since rights are aimed among other things, at promoting equal treatment, they may reduce the scope of the doctor's discretion, thus, safeguarding the patients\u2019 legal security (Medicare Center Rights, 1996).

Effective health care requires collaboration between patients and physicians and other health care professionals. Relationships between patients and health care professionals are most rewarding and likely to result in positive outcomes when they are characterized by open communication, active participation of patients in the treatment process, respect for personal and professional values, and sensitivity to


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