Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rough Draft: Patient's Bill of Rights - feel free to comment and contribute.


If I were to be granted a wish, I would wish for a patient’s bill of rights, enshrined in law and inalienable.  I know that this is probably not possible, given the rise of futilitarianism and the patronal attitudes of some doctors and certain medical ethicists, but still, it is nice to wonder.

There are those who will, predictably, accuse me of being theoretical and idealistic, but I want to explore this idea at least in outline.  I came to this idea the other night while at dinner with activist friends, and I made the remark that patients needed a bill of rights.

That idea has been residing in my thought ever since.  One first recognition must be that human beings as patients have inalienable personhood, regardless of estate or situation, or capacity.  This should be true whether or not the person resides in a philosophical definition of personhood.

I am also writing this spontaneously; I haven’t done any other research – yet – to find out if there are any other such bills in existence.  I understand that the UN/CRPD is ratified by several nations, but ominously, Holland has not accepted Article 10 of that document.

The rough draft, as I have written it:

Protections for the person in a medical setting must be held in law; there can be no exceptions.

Given that the doctrine of informed consent has gone out the window, this must also be enshrined.

Consent must also be clearly asked and given, and not assumed.  This has happened in the past in Canada.

There should be no such thing as a silent order; and caregiver authority should not be usurped for political reasons. 

Patients should also be able to ask about options and know what all their options are, not just the ones that the doctor deems as necessary.

Patients should also be able to have a say in their care and the type of medications they get: if there is a cheaper option, for example.

I realize that this article is chaotic; I am typing as I consider this situation.  I do believe that we need a bill of rights, and that this must be spelled out – and enforced – for those who are in power.  I have seen examples of doctors who have abused their authority, and that must stop.  Patients should be able to put their trust in someone who can save their lives. 


Given the abuses that patients and families have experienced while in care, and given that there is no legal recourse for those patients or families, we demand the following rights be enshrined and recognized immediately for vulnerable patients.

These rights are classically inalienable and have the power of law; they are also applied without respect of the person’s estate or condition.

Whereas we have seen patients being treated against their will;
And whereas we have seen that treatment include the outcome of death;
And whereas we have seen patients be isolated from family and caregivers who would care for them and keep them safe from harm,
And whereas we have seen situations defined for the benefit of others and the detriment of the patient;

We demand that patients in care, of any type, be accorded inalienable rights which lead to their protection and prolongation of life without fear of imposed death.

We also demand that patients be given worthwhile and good information about their treatment and their options in language that is clear and understandable, with no ambiguity.

We further demand that patients not be steered toward a conclusion desirable by those who would find such convenient.

In addition, patients should have the following rights:

The right to life;
The right to food and water, without these being defined as treatment, or withheld;
The right to proper pain management without discrimination;
The right to timely care and due consideration;
The right to be treated without discrimination based on other’s opinion;
The right to have access to family and friends;
The right to have access to information from the outside world;
The right to communicate with the world while in care;
The right to have their own voices heard in treatment and in public;
The right to have their voices heard, listened to and respected;
The right to appropriate legal representation without delay on request and demand;
The right to access, see, read, be presented with, and understand their personal medical records;
The right to change these records where error, inaccuracy or misrepresentation is found;
The right to fire their doctors and or nurses, if necessary;
The right to be treated appropriately;
The right to be treated with respect accorded to their innate personhood;
The right to personhood and capability as a basic assumption.

These and other rights are necessary to offset the abuses that patients of differing abilities and capabilities; it is necessary to protect the personhood and humanity of all patients.  In addition, the presumed humanity of patients must be assumed and enshrined.  If the humanity of the most vulnerable is lost, then the humanity of everyone else can be considered contingent – and this will lead to further abuses.

This must stop!  Human lives are at stake if these rights are not codified, enforced and respected fully!  Patients and potential patients deserve better than to be patronized!  There is too much abuse of power and these rights, enshrined, will and must stop the abuse of patients in a socially imbalanced power relationship.

Patients’ rights NOW!

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