Confrontation of Human Rights in Daily Clinical Situations

Confrontation of Human Rights in Daily Clinical Situations

Anna Konieczna (University of Applied Sciences in Nysa, Poland) and Przemysław Słomkowski (Ministry Hospital in Bydgoszcz, Poland)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9658-7.ch011


The chapter concerns human rights as they are enacted in daily clinical situations. It invokes basic documents describing human rights as well as legislative acts dealing more specifically with the rights of doctors and patients. Basing on the theoretical legislative background, the text presents cases of conflict and misunderstanding between various participants of clinical situations. The authors are mainly concerned with the clash of values and beliefs concerning terminal care treatment of ICU patients and with the issue of patient's autonomy and self-determination. The concepts of informed consent and moral distress are explained and visualized with real life examples.
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Human Rights Documents

Numerous international acts describe fundamental human rights. Among these acts there can be enumerated, as the most important ones, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950), whose text has been amended several times throughout the years. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrined the concept of human dignity. It also provided the background for the developments of universal standards concerning the treatment of human beings based on our common responsibilities as society members. The values recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are “the inherent dignity” (art. 1) and the “equal and unalienable rights of all members of the human family” (preamble). Basing on the above cited statements concerning human dignity and equality, the concept of patient rights was developed. As subsequent legislative documents proliferated, declarations concerning more specifically the rights and privileges of a patient appeared. An example here could be the European Convention on Bioethics announced in 1997. This and other similar conventions were intended to stand on the side of ethics and protect the rights and the freedoms of people. An important role within this movement was played by World Health Organization (WHO) and World Medical Association (WMA), organizations which have proclaimed numerous important documents dealing with medical health care and patient rights. Among the many documents announced, the one that deserves special attention is the Declaration on the Promotion of Patient Rights in Europe (1994). The document states that patients should be treated with dignity and respect which is owed to all human beings. That also means that they are entitled to be provided with access to medical care and to be offered safe clinical services, that their autonomy and privacy are to be respected, and that confidentiality of information concerning individual patients should be the norm.

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