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An eye towards the "Rights"

August 20, 2012

by: Suhana Adam, Senior Nursing Supervisor

The word “rights” is defined as just claim to anything to which one is entitled as power or privilege (Griffth, & Tengnah, 2012). And each individual’s rights have to be protected.

One of the major concerns of patient’s rights is their right to make treatment choice. However this rights has been breached many times by assuming that patients’ or their relatives’ are not capable enough to make their own decision, regarding the treatment they receive. For example: the patients or relatives are usually not informed about the choices they have, but they are given the treatment chosen by healthcare providers’. This may happen due to limited knowledge or lack of awareness about having the rights to make treatment choice.  According to the study done in several hospitals of south east Asia, shows that many patients’ allowed their doctors to make decisions. They hesitated to protest when their rights were being violated, thinking that doctors or health care workers knows the best (Collman, & Cooper, 2005).

Therefore it is very important to make public aware about this issue, as the successful relationships between patients and health care providers depend on trust. To establish that trust, health care workers must respect patients' autonomy (Baumann, et al, 2009).  Nurses need to be educated in the importance of individuality, and promoting patients to assert their independence (Griffth, & Tengnah, 2012). Moreover, patients’ must be given sufficient information, in a way that they can understand, to enable them to exercise their rights to make informed decisions about their care.

In addition, patients’ rights of informed consent is also been breached purposely or unknowingly. For example: blanket consent is been taken at the time of admission, in a form of general agreement to accept to receive, all the treatment that will be provided by hospital. These consent are been taken by means of protecting institution, rather than respecting the patients’ rights. The fact that consent has been given will normally prevents a successful claim for trespass (Collman, & Cooper, 2005). However, it may not prevent an action for negligence arising on the grounds that there was a breach of duty to care and inform the patient.

Moreover the patients’ and relatives’ rights to complaints are been often neglected, assuming and labeling the patient’ and relatives’ who are complaining repeatedly are “difficult “or “fussy”. And as a result of neglecting these issues, nurses’ and healthcare workers often have to face the incidents which might have been avoided if they addressed the complaints appropriately.There should be a mechanism to allow complaints to be heard and acted upon (Ulrich, et al, 2010).These complaints should be recorded, evaluated and analyzed.

Other than protecting patients’ and relatives’ rights, it is also essential to protect nurses’ rights. When a nurse joined a hospital, he/she, expect to work in a safe environment for practicing their nursing care. But most of the hospitals in Maldives do not have safe environment to practice. For example: Most of the procedures that nurses’ carry out daily do not have proper guideline to protect them if and when an incident occurs. Therefore it will be difficult to justify the standard of care they have given. The nurse must operate within the ethical rules governing the profession and his/her career scope of practice (Yakov,et al. 2010).

Nurses and health care workers are primarily responsible for protecting patients, and the relative’s rights. Nurses are personally accountable for their actions and omissions, regardless of advice or directions from other professionals. The only way to ensure that a nurse puts the patient first is by giving patients their rights. However, in the healthcare world, in many instances, the rights of patient, family and nurse are been violated or ignored knowingly and unknowingly. Therefore nurses need to know and understand patient, family and nurse rights and their health institute’s responsibilities as specified in laws, ethics and regulations.


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