ICBioethics Blog 

Can Patient Rights Be Better Protected?

Written by: Dr. Kathy Gennuso

One does not have to look far to find examples of what seem to be violations of patient trust and rights.

While screams for justice emanating from the recent VA scandal send gov’t officials scurrying (wow—talk about violation of both private and public trust!), I want to draw attention to more subtle violations of patient rights . . .

Many patients are totally unaware that their rights continue to be violated. Many still experience vague and inadequate informed consent procedures, paternalistic withholding of pertinent information/options, and less than full involvement in their treatment decisions.

This will only worsen unless a more rights-savvy public collectively cries, “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!”

Let’s make that cry now . . . and see tangible results!

Can healthcare facility boards, with all levels of leadership, exert sufficient sustainable and powerful pressure to significantly shift healthcare philosophy and culture? Yes, with motivation they can. And if this pressure isn’t generated within the organization, it can come from without.

Initially, liability fears and entrenched mindsets created barriers to development of effective, comprehensive patient-safety programs. However, explicit judicial recognition of patients’ “right to safety” and hospitals’ obligation to implement patient-safety measures spurred the development of improved patient safety systems. Hospitals not taking action to improve safety became viewed as negligent and subject to malpractice lawsuits. That pressure brought results.

Let’s use this analogy and apply that process to patient rights.

Mitch GennusoComment