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Health care in danger: the responsibilities of health-care personnel working in armed conflicts and other emergencies

Health care in danger: the responsibilities of health-care personnel working in armed conflicts and other emergencies

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A guidance document in simple language for health personnel, setting out their rights and responsibilities in conflict and other situations of violence. One surgeon who reviewed the text said: "It's what I wish I'd had in my pocket when I first went into the field as a surgeon with the ICRC." It explains how responsibilities and rights for health personnel can be derived from international humanitarian law, human rights law and medical ethics.
A guidance document in simple language for health personnel, setting out their rights and responsibilities in conflict and other situations of violence. One surgeon who reviewed the text said: "It's what I wish I'd had in my pocket when I first went into the field as a surgeon with the ICRC." It explains how responsibilities and rights for health personnel can be derived from international humanitarian law, human rights law and medical ethics.

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Categories:Types, Brochures
Published by: International Committee of the Red Cross on Sep 10, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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01/30/2013

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Here are some questions regarding standards of care in a

given situation. Even if they cannot be answered defni-

tively, thinking about them and discussing them with col-

leagues may ensure that your decisions and practice are

appropriate to the context:
•Do I have a clear idea of the standard of care I wish to
deliver? Can I deliver it?
•To what publications or experience does that standard

refer?

31 R.M. Coupland, “An epidemiological approach to the surgical management of
casualties of war,” British Medical Journal, 308, 1994, pp. 1693-1697.

62

ResponsibiliTies of healTh-CaRe peRsonnel

•Have I done everything possible to raise the standard
of care, in terms of infrastructure and materials or

professional expertise?
•Have I identifed the constraints that prevent me
from delivering the desired standard of care?
•Have I done everything possible to overcome
the constraints created by lack of expertise or

infrastructure?
•Have I identifed the main dilemmas? Have I discussed
these dilemmas with others, including colleagues,

senior fgures in my organization and professional

associations?
•Do I know which person or organization I might turn
to for help and advice about standards?
•If I am responsible for imported health care – especially
military health care deployed overseas – have I under-

stood that, to maintain an appropriate standard, I may

have to adapt my practice according to whom I am

treating? (You may have to think diferently about

your practice according to whether you are treating a

wounded soldier who is to be transported back to his

or her home country or a civilian aficted with a chronic

disease.)
•Do I recognize any of the signs of inadequate or
inappropriate health care that are listed in Section 6.4?
•To what extent is the delivery of health care driven by
media or political interests rather than the desire to

have a real impact on the wounded and sick?

If you do not take these questions into consideration, you

may risk adopting a standard of care that is inappropriate,

inefective and even dangerous. You may not fulfl your

responsibilities to the wounded and sick. You may even

be risking professional malpractice. Ultimately, if you don’t

care about standards of health care in armed conficts and

other emergencies, you should ask yourself whether you

should be attempting to deliver health care at all.

64

ResponsibiliTies of healTh-CaRe peRsonnel

Wojtek Lembryke/ICRC

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