Why do we need a patients bill of rights to address information lag in...

  Apr 02, 2017

Why do we need a patients bill of rights to address information lag in medical delivery?

Many a time, we see children spend days outside the ICU where their terminally-ill parent is admitted, only to receive the dead body after a few days. The patient’s relatives have a right to know about the condition of the patient, immediately after life-saving measures are instituted. They have a right to participate in the decision related to the treatment of their loved one, especially if it is an end of life situation. If there is no hope of the patient’s survival, he or she should be allowed to spend the last moments with loved ones. Medical intervention should be restricted to measures that ease the patient’s pain.
The pros and cons of using invasive life-support devices and the chances for cure have to be clearly explained to patients in understandable language. These devices should be used only if the brain is functioning. Today, any patient who has a breathing difficulty is put on a ventilator, irrespective of whether his/her condition is curable or not. It is highly unethical to use measures to prolong oxygenation after vital systems have stopped working spontaneously. Every human has a right to die with dignity.
Most countries have implemented the patient’s bill of rights. But, in India, there is no law to deal with patient’s rights, except some aspects of the Consumer Protection Act. In India, people have come to regard the ICU as a forbidden chamber and the only role of patients’ attendants is to bring medicines as requested by the ICU staff from time to time. They patiently wait outside hoping for the best, even in cases where the futility of life support is evident.
The rights of patients
The rights of patients and their relatives has to be legislated and awareness should be created in public fora. Every hospital should have a charter which shall identify the roles and responsibilities of hospital staff towards patients’ and families’ rights.